“We’ve been in Eritrea since 2003. We’ve drilled over 200,000 metres and spent about $35 million—most of that on drilling. We’ve defined four deposits to date. Debarwa—where the results came from yesterday—has the extremely high-grade copper deposit, where there’s a zone that averages 18% to 20% copper. The rest of the deposit is quite rich as well; there’s the oxide-gold cap, and the rest is supergene copper averaging 5.36%. The primary zone, which is open at depth, averages 2.5% copper and 3.25% zinc. So: extremely high grades, and we are currently in feasibility. As part of that feasibility, we’ll be updating the resource calculation towards the end of May, and the feasibility itself will be complete in November 2011.
“What to say about the recent results? They’re amazing. These are some of the highest copper grades in the world. They’ll be plugged into the feasibility study now, and I think we’ll see a nice bump in the resource estimate by the end of the month.
“Debarwa is a beautiful project for a small Canadian junior to fast track into production. But I always emphasize that the real long-term value is in the northern deposits, which are comprised of our large Emba Derho Deposit—a 62.5-million-tonne copper-zinc-gold VMS deposit, and, six kilometres away, there is an extremely high-grade zinc-copper-gold deposit called Adi Nevas. Also, six kilometres from Emba Derho is the Gupo Gold Deposit. We’re drilling on all three of those right now, with 8,500 metres being drilled at Emba Derho. The first results should be in in about 10 days to two weeks. Once that starts, we’ll continue our fairly steady news flow of drill results.
“All the northern deposits are in pre-feasibility. There’s overlap too with Debarwa. We’re doing trade-off studies and looking at building a central plant at Emba Derho. So we’ll have updated resource calculations by the end of the year, then a full pre-feasibility probably in January 2012.
“The earliest production would be at Debarwa. If we complete the feasibility in November, we’ll do an environmental assessment study and apply for mining permits early in 2012—so production could be as early as late 2012 or early 2013.
“The current unrest in Africa isn’t effecting our operations at all. We conducted an analyst’s tour about two weeks ago and, of course, that was one of the questions. When you’re in Eritrea it seems like the entire country is on the same page and moving in the same direction. There is no unrest there. It’s a delightful place to visit. Eritrea is completely different from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. There’s no rich ruling class, no offshore accounts, mansions, etc. The president himself lives modestly and, I feel, truly has the support of the people.
“We’re just starting to hit that fulcrum now where things are really moving fast. We’re proceeding on all fronts: on development, on our feasibility studies, and there’s still exploration upside. One other thing to note is that we have another project in Madagascar, and we’ll be announcing the first drill program there—VMS targets again—probably in about 10 days to two weeks time.”
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