Well, it’s time for the annual year-end review. At the time of last year’s message, we were unaware of the extent of the damage that was to be inflicted upon us by the Covid virus as it was not in the news yet. And inflict it did.

Fast forward 12 months and we are now witnessing the second wave of the virus that has changed the way we collectively live and work. It’s one of those paradigm shifts that will create change in our lives for many years to come. Personally, I have been working from my home office since February……and loving it. I am reconnecting with people for long walks and I am probably in the best physical shape I have been in for many years.

On the business side there is no question that Covid had an effect on us. Our business calls for a lot of face-to-face interaction as we attempt to gain the confidence of the Ecuadorians, we are trying to do business with. As it stands, I haven’t been to Ecuador for a year, but I do stay in contact with all of the people there who are trying to help us get firmly planted in Ponce Enriquez, Ecuador. For example, we created a new advisory committee and added our first member, Mr. Stevie Gamboa. Stevie is a lawyer, but he has also spent several years in government and we are thankful to have his expertise as we begin the process of starting a new business in Ecuador. I would hope to add at least 2 more members this year to the team. I also have reached out to an individual that I hope will fill the COO role once we get funded. We are engaged in ongoing discussions with potential partners for the Ponce project and I  hope to be able to announce something in the near future with respect to financing the project.

In December 2020, we also published the grades of the concentrates we collected from 6 mines in Ponce Enriquez. We were happy to cite one sample that ran 2.24 ounces of gold per tonne. Internally we are targeting concentrate with + 1 ounce per tonne and the results lead us to believe the grades are indicative of what the + 90 mines in Ponce Enriquez have to offer. As a reminder, it is our intent to build a 50 tonne per day bioleach plant in Ponce to buy and process high grade gold/arsenic concentrates that today are sold to foreign buyers. Presently the concentrates are bought by their agents at a significant discount to their contained gold value due to the arsenic levels and shipped to Asia for processing. Our intent is to keep the material, jobs, and tax base in Ecuador by paying better prices than those currently being offered. 

In August, we were contacted by a Naples, Florida based group who have an active alluvial mining business in Colombia. If you recall, they have a tailings project associated with a mine that produced gold and platinum prior to WW2. The grades they showed us, which came from an accredited lab here in Canada, were off the scale and not printable until verified. Five months later we are still sitting and watching the clock waiting for the Colombian government to relax the travel restrictions they imposed months ago. What makes this project exciting, over and above the proposed grades, is it also runs roughly 1% arsenic which means it’s a potential feed for the Ecuador plant, to blend with concentrate having higher arsenic content . The cost to install a used flotation plant to process the tails is low and the end product should be of interest to metal traders. Once we sample the tailings ourselves to confirm the stated grades, we could produce some concentrate in a matter of months.

Raising capital is always a chore for us especially since our stock price can only lead to more dilution. An alternative to this could be to use our wholly owned Ecuador subco as the target of direct financing. As they say 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. In the interim we set out to file a Regulation A financing in the US. Regulation A (or Reg A) is a financing mechanism that was created almost 100 years ago during the Great Depression. It was created to allow smaller businesses the opportunity to raise money to hire workers who had lost their jobs due to the Depression. Reg A has been around for all the years between then and now but really was not used much. A few years ago, the SEC blew the dust off the rules and updated them to better reflect the current state of affairs and we liked what we saw. To date we have done a small offering to test the waters and we are pleased with the results. We have tied the various raises to the successive steps of the project, and we will use them should we be unable to attract a partner for the project.

Outlook for 2021

There are a number of goals we would like to achieve this coming year. First, we would look to sign up a partner in the Ecuador project or alternatively secure a commitment to finance the estimated US$10M needed to put the Ponce Enriquez plant into production. This of course is based on obtaining suitable test results from the bioleach study and we are confident that we can liberate the gold for recovery and also produce a benign arsenic material. Following on from this would be the feasibility study and detailed engineering for the plant.

In Colombia, we are planning a  site visit to arrange the 3rd party sampling as soon as travel restrictions permit. Our partner has agreed to pay for the sampling, and we will chip in the cost of assaying the material, both of which are inexpensive and can lead us to follow a short path to reprocessing the tails or stopping the project due to lower grades than advertised. If the grades are (or near) what was advertised, then we would quickly produce a NI 43-101 report as a pathway to installing a simple flotation circuit to produce a concentrate for sale. As mentioned earlier, the tailings analysis from the Canadian lab shows 1% arsenic along with the gold and platinum which makes it a possible feed for the bioleach plant in Ecuador once it is up and running.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience. We don’t drill exciting holes and we can’t point to ounces in the ground to underpin our stock price. We will have to do it the old fashion way by providing earnings and cash flow, both of which are hopefully within our grasp. Stay safe and hopefully our daily routines will return to normal sooner than projected. If you have any questions or comments reach me at the cell and email below.

Yours Truly,

M. Ross Orr