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As for specific local concerns, “if you look at some of the social issues that have been encountered at projects like Newmont’s [TSX:NMC] Conga project, the national government has taken a very active role in forming roundtables and bringing communities, regional governments, the national government and private enterprise together to come up with solutions that will permit the development of very important projects like Conga.”
Could Shaheen be overly optimistic? Having closed a $15-million bought deal financing in March, Panoro seems to maintain investor confidence. About 6% of the company is held by HudBay Minerals TSX:HBM, which is developing the $1.5-billion Constancia copper mine in the same region. Copper giant Antofagasta Minerals holds another 3%. “Roughly half our stock is held by strategic shareholders, large institutional shareholders, the board and management,” Shaheen says.
All told, the company has about $20 million in the till to push Cotabambas to PEA. The project has a June 2012 resource that uses a 0.2% copper-equivalent cutoff to estimate:
- an inferred category of 404.1 million tonnes averaging 0.42% copper, 0.23 grams per tonne gold and 2.84 g/t silver.
Within the resource pit shell lies a high-grade pit shell that uses a 0.4% copper-equivalent cutoff to estimate:
- an inferred category of 199.8 million tonnes averaging 0.54% copper, 0.3 g/t gold and 3.19 g/t silver.
If you look into the details, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a national political environment that is more pro-mining, more pro-development or more pro-private investment.—Luquman Shaheen, president/CEO of Panoro Minerals
“We continue to intersect high-grade primary and secondary mineralization,” Shaheen says. “We will likely do an extra month or month and a half of drilling for those high-grade zones to incorporate them into the resource estimate. So that will probably delay completion of the resource until September, and then we’ll move into a PEA.” This year’s agenda also includes environmental baseline work, metallurgy and pit geo-mechanical studies, he adds.
Meanwhile work resumes at Antilla after a joint-venture dispute caused a two-year suspension. A court of arbitration handed the 100% interest back to Panoro in January. The project’s 2009 resource used a 0.25% copper cutoff to estimate an inferred category of 154.4 million tonnes averaging 0.47% copper and 0.009% molybdenum.
“We’re now back on site reviewing the work done by our former partner and updating our internal geologic and resource models,” says Shaheen. Slated for this year is a resource update accompanying a technical report which will recommend whether to proceed to PEA.
As Cotabambas advances, “we expect that there would be different groups who would be interested in partnering, JV-ing or acquiring that project,” maintains Shaheen. But should Antilla achieve feasibility, he thinks Panoro could take the mid-sized project into production itself.
Although Peru’s stock exchange began actively recruiting Canadian and Australian juniors early this year, Panoro’s been trading in Lima since 2007. “We were one of the first five or six junior companies listed in Lima,” says Shaheen. “Right now I believe there’s 15 or 16 juniors.” He says they’re seeing a growing interest among Peruvian investors. “Moreover there’s a process underway of integrating the Lima, Santiago and Bogota exchanges,” he points out. “So that has the opportunity to open up investment in those dual-listed companies to Chilean and Colombian investors.”
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