The Zaruma Gold Project is situated in El Oro Province of southern Ecuador, approximately 175 kilometres south and 60 kilometres southeast of the major port cities of Guayaquil and Machala respectively. The Zaruma Project area is located within one of the oldest and most prolific gold districts in Ecuador where over 5Moz of gold and 12Moz of silver production have been recorded since 1904.
The Zaruma project is comprised of numerous high grade, vein hosted gold zones with multiple underground mine developments. The main portal of the Cabo de Hornos mine is roughly 7.5 km trucking distance from the company’s milling and CIP processing facility commissioned in 2009.
The Zaruma Gold Project covers an area of approximately 88km2 comprised of 28 concessions in a readily assessable region of southern Ecuador. The gold mineralization found on the concessions is associated with extensive high-grade gold and silver epithermal style quarz vein systems.
The hills of Zaruma and Portovelo have been mined for gold and silver for centuries. The Incas extracted gold and silver from the area in the 1500s while exploitation of the Zaruma and Portovelo districts continued during the time of Spanish colonization until 1870 when an Ecuadorian-Chilean company was established.
The Zaruma Gold Project was was then acquired by the American company Southern American Development Company (SADCO) in the late 1800’s and, who historically recovered 3.5 million ounces of gold and 12 million ounces of silver from 7.6 million tonnes of ore at a cut-off grade of 14.4 g/t Au and 48.9 g/t Ag between 1897 and 1950. SADCO withdrew from Ecuador and Zaruma became operated by state owned company CIMA until the 1990s.
In the mid-1990s several foreign companies including TVX Gold Inc, IAMGOLD and Rio Tinto carried out some of the first modernexploration programs in the district, until IAMGOLD sold a portfolio of projects to Minera Australiana, a private Ecuadorian entity, which vended the assets into Dynasty Mining and Metals Corp. Dynasty Mining completed a PEA on Zaruma and commenced development of a processing plant and developed three underground rampsahead of any feasibility studies. Zaruma operated at a trial mining scale from 2009 to 2013, and in late 2013 commenced commercial operation through 2015, and put into care and maintenance in 2016. In the 27 month period of commercial production ending 31 December 2015, Dynasty reported producing over 60 koz of gold with an average grade of 8 g/t.
Zaruma has access to power from the main grid, and boasts extensive development work including an existing 5 x 5m decline ramp allowing access to ore shoots to 600m vertical depth with numerous underground veins available for exploitation.
The previous owners of Zaruma in 2014 delivered a PEA underpinned by an NI-43-101 compliant resource estimate (now considered historical and non-current) which is available for review on SEDAR. Titan Minerals conducting a strategic review of Zaruma.
The Portovelo mill is a conventional crush, mill, leach, Carbon-in-Pulp (CIP), elution and electrowinning circuit with a nameplate capacity of 2,000 tpd.
Depending on head grade, up to approximately 25% of the gold can be taken out of circuit via the gravity concentration system. There are other processing flowsheet options available which this project could embark upon to further increase both throughput and precious metal recoveries (adding increased throughput capacity, for example), such as a floatation circuit for increased recovery of silver and possibly other base metals.
The average extraction recoveries on ore from the Zaruma has been up to 93% and Portvelo from commercial operations from undergound mining ended in 2015, and from 2016 has successfully treated up to 260,000 tonnes p.a. from the Dynasty Gold Project.