Making the Next Significant Discovery in the Bathurst Mining Camp
This Puma Exploration profile is part of a paid investor education campaign.*
Puma Exploration Inc. (TSXV:PUMA,OTC:PUXPF) is a junior exploration company with 15 years of experience exploring in the New Brunswick’s Bathurst mining camp (BMC) delivering value to its shareholders by undertaking diversified exploration and development projects, and acquisitions of ownership. The BMC is one of the most prolific mining districts for base metals in Canada and offers exploration companies the necessary infrastructure to advance a developing mining project.
Puma Exploration is currently completing its earn-in on the Murray Brook project from Votorantim Metals Canada and El Nino Ventures (TSXV:ELN). The property hosts a historical resource from a 2013 PEA for a low-grade (17 million tonnes) open pit operation as well as an updated resource from 2016. The 2016 resource outlines a measured and indicated resource higher-grade zone of 5.2 million tonnes with grades of 7.05 percent lead-zinc, 0.46 percent copper, 69 g/t silver and 0.65 g/t gold. (610 million pounds zinc, 52 million pounds copper, 209 million pounds lead, 11 million ounces silver, 110,000 ounces gold)
Puma has spent over C$2.5 million on exploration and development work on the project. The programs included 5,000 meters of drilling, trenching, geophysical survey and 3D modeling and engineering work to move the project towards a production decision.
The Murray Brook VMS Deposit provides the company with the ability to target various commodity markets as they move through their cycles. Once a production decision is made, the company intends to initially target gold and silver mineralization to take advantage of the recent rise in gold and silver prices and plans to prioritize the development of the gold-silver Gossan and Oxide zones at Murray Brook.
Puma Exploration has recently acquired the Chester property, which is located 25 kilometers southwest of three of Trevali Mining Corporation’s (TSX:TV,OTCQX:TREVF,FWB:4TI) volcanic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits: Halfmine Lake, Stratmat, and Heath Steele. The property hosts a historical measured and indicated resource of 1.4 million tonnes grading 1.38 percent copper from 2008 and an inferred resource of 2.08 million tonnes grading 1.26 percent copper at the West zone.
Moving forward, Puma Exploration intends to be testing the best drill-ready targets, potentially adding new deposits to the Chester project.
The company has already also optioned its Red Brook project to Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO). Rio Tinto can earn a 100 percent interest in the property for C$1 million over five years, demonstrating the company’s ability to find and develop attractive projects.
Recently, Puma sold its interest in the Ann’s Creek and Beresford copper properties, collectively named the Nicholas-Denys project to Targets Minerals. The transaction is expected to create a new active player in gold and silver in northern New Brunswick with the initial focus on precious metal (gold-silver) deposits located along the Rocky-Brook-Millstream (RBM) major fault system. Puma received 14.2 million shares of Targets Minerals which is expected to represent approximately 48 percent of the outstanding shares at the closing of the purchase agreement. Puma also received C$100,000 in cash at the closing and will retain a one percent net smelter return royalty of which half of it can be bought back for C$1 million.
Puma Exploration’s success can be attributed to its management, which has extensive experience in the mining and finance industries. The company’s VP Exploration, Dominique Gagné, brings a lot of value to the company with his diversified profile as he specialized in GIS and in exploration. He can find exploration targets and promising new projects.
Puma Exploration’s management team is also notably invested in the company, as President Marcel Robillard (who owns approximately 10 million shares) has raised approximately C$20 million in the last 15 years for the company.
Puma Exploration’s Company Highlights
- Puma Exploration is operating in the world-renowned, mining-friendly Bathurst mining camp in New Brunswick, Canada.
- The Bathurst mining camp contains established infrastructure and a skilled local labor force.
- Puma Exploration’s management team has 15 years of experience exploring in the Bathurst mining camp.
- The Murray Brook project hosts a historical resource that outlines a measured and indicated resource of 5.2 million tons with grades of 5.24 percent zinc, 0.46 percent copper, 1.8 percent lead, 69 g/t silver and 0.65 g/t gold.
- Since 2016, Puma Exploration has spent over C$2.5 million on exploration and development work in the Murray Brook Area.
- Work is ongoing to push Murray Brook towards a production decision.
- The Chester property is located 25 kilometers southwest of Trevali’s Deposit: Halfmine Lake, Stratmat and Heath Steele VMS deposits.
- Chester hosts a historical measured and indicated resource of 1.4 million tonnes grading 1.38 percent copper from 2008 and an inferred resource of 2.08 million tonnes grading 1.26 percent copper at the West zone.
- Metallurgical testing at Chester indicates that a standard flotation circuit could achieve recovery rates between 97 percent and 98 percent.
- Puma Exploration is looking to capitalize on its success with Rio Tinto and joint venture or option its additional properties to other major mining companies in the area.
- Puma Exploration has an experienced management team with significant shareholdings.
Mining in New Brunswick
The New Brunswick Bathurst region is a jurisdiction that is open to potentially hosting significant mining projects. Based on its mining history, Bathurst is one of the most prolific districts for base metals in Canada. Puma Exploration’s projects in the Bathurst mining camp are supported by a skilled local labor force and previously established infrastructure such as paved roads, railway services, access to a seaport and smelter. The region is also known for having hosted the Brunswick #12 mine, which was one of the largest underground zinc mines in the world.
The Murray Brook project covers 7,678 hectares that span 18 kilometers within the Bathurst mining camp, which is known for being a world-class zinc-lead producer. This includes the Murray Brook mining lease, which hosts the Murray Brook deposit. The total land packaged is adjacent to Trevali’s Caribou property, the region’s only current zinc-producing mine. Puma Exploration has an option to purchase a 67.9 percent interest in the property from Votorantim Metals Canada and 32.1 percent interest from El Nino Ventures.
Murray Brook is an undeveloped deposit with low-grade open pit potential and a high-grade underground resource. The property boasts historical resources from a 2013 PEA for a low-grade open pit: 1.078 million pounds of zinc, 183 million pounds of copper, 390 million pounds of lead, 23.9 million ounces of silver and 338,000 ounces of gold. This is within historical measured and indicated resources of 17.9 million tons with grades of 2.73 percent zinc, 0.47 percent copper, 0.99 percent lead, 41.7 g/t silver and 0.59 g/t gold.
This resource was developed as a result of drilling programs that were conducted between 2010 and 2013. Results from these programs included 11.94 percent zinc over 23 meters, 11.10 percent zinc over 24 meters and 10.90 percent zinc over 20 meters. In 2018, drilling program was completed to initiate the metallurgy testing and the geotechnics. Highlights include 6.9 percent zinc, 2.4 percent lead over 87.1 meters, 6.1 percent zinc, 2.1 percent lead over 120 meters and 2.11percent copper over 19 meters.
2016 Resource Estimate
When conducting due diligence on the property, Puma Exploration completed a NI 43-101 underground surface resource estimate on a subsection of the historical resource, narrowing in on a high-grade underground segment of the deposit. This secondary resource estimate presented a measured and indicated resource of 5.2 million tons with grades of 7.04 percent zinc-lead, 0.46 percent copper, 69 g/t silver and 0.65 g/t gold.
Exploration and development potential
Since the acquisition of the property, Puma Exploration has been managing the Murray Brook property in a two-ways approach: development and exploration. With a focus on developing the project, the company is working to produce an updated PEA for the property, based on a 10-million-ton open-pit deposit. This PEA will help determine the best approach for extracting the resource and establish a CAPEX figure for the project.
“The completion of the PEA will be a truly defining milestone for PUMA with the Murray Brook project,” said Puma Exploration President Marcel Robillard. “The potential to grow the mineral resource is significant according to the drill-ready targets located along strike and toward the Caribou mine. We hope to outline a deposit between 30 to 50 MT Deposit graded 7-9 percent lead-zinc”
In parallel, Puma Exploration has also been conducting additional exploration initiatives to help grow the resource. The company launched an initial fieldwork program in May 2017. The field program was followed by trenching activities on the eastern segment aimed at providing the best access to potential target areas on the property.
In August 2017, the company announced the start of its first drilling program on the property. This included the drilling of three holes with one measuring 300 meters and looking to test the depth of the massive sulfide deposit at surface. The other two holes were used to verify the copper mineralization discovered in the southwestern portion of the deposit. Puma Exploration also intercepted a 405 meters interval that graded 3.3 percent zinc, 1.1 percent lead, 0.95 g/t gold and 0.30 percent copper.
Following these initial drill holes, the company launched an additional 5,000-meter drill program in December 2017. Highlights from the program include 10 meters grading 6.60 percent zinc, 1.70 percent lead, 0.53 g/t gold and 1.15 percent copper and 26 meters grading 1.02 percent copper. Puma Exploration also conducted a 1,900-meter trenching program at Murray Brooke East property.
In April 2018, Puma Exploration signed a definitive agreement with Trevali to jointly explore the Murray Brook property. Throughout 2018, Puma Exploration and Trevali spent C$2 million in development and exploration work on Murray Brooke. Exploration work included 5,000-meters of drilling, trenching and engineering work to move the property towards a production decision. Drilling highlights from the program include 27 meters grading 13.1 percent zinc and 4.8 percent lead and 153.2 meters grading 1.17 g/t gold, 0.50 percent copper and 4.16 percent copper and lead.
The Murray Brook deposit is open both on-strike and at-depth. As a result, Puma Exploration sees significant opportunities for continuing to identify drill targets and conducting further exploration initiatives on the property.
Puma Exploration has the option to acquire a 100 percent interest in the 3,600-hectare Chester project. The property is located approximately 25 kilometers southwest of three significant VMS deposits; Halfmine Lake, Stratmat and Heath Steele, all of which are owned by Trevali.
The advanced-stage Chester project offers Puma Exploration significant exploration potential. A soil geochemical survey was completed on the property in 2004. Several anomalous areas have been discovered to the north and south of the property and they remain untested. The company is looking to expand its property to include these areas. Significant historical drill results include 5.2 meters grading 8.0 percent copper and 5.6 meters grading 10.8 percent zinc and 4.5 percent lead.
In the early 1970s, the Sullivan Group developed a portal and a 600-meter ramp into the copper feeder zones on two slopes. The Sullivan Group mined 30,000 tonnes of bulk samples that graded two percent copper from the workings.
The property also hosts a historical measured and indicated resource from 2008 that revealed 1.4 million tonnes grading 1.38 percent copper for the West zone. An inferred resource of 2.08 million tonnes grading 1.26 percent copper was also reported.
Some metallurgical test work has been completed on the property as well. Testing indicates that concentrate grades between 27 percent and 28 percent could be produced with recovery rates between 97 percent and 98 percent through standard flotation circuits. To date, no metallurgy has been conducted for zinc or lead.
Puma Exploration’s Chester strategy
Moving forward, Puma Exploration intends to confirm and upgrade the current historical resources and define additional zones of mineralization that are on strike. The company plans to begin an exploration program on the property in the near term to outline exploration targets and prioritize drill-ready targets.
Puma Exploration’s Additional Properties
In addition to his Murray Brook and Chester flagship properties, Puma Exploration has additional properties in the northern New Brunswick. The company is currently looking for joint venture partners or ownership to help advance the development of each property.
The Turgeon project is a wholly-owned 5,359-hectare property located on a mafic volcanic sequence, five kilometers south of New Brunswick’s Belledune deepwater port. To date, the property has seen 30,000 meters of drilling and has a historical resource of 1.5 million to 2.0 million tons with grades of 1.5 percent copper and 4.0 percent zinc.
Fe Bloom project
Puma Exploration is acquiring a 100 percent interest in the 643-hectare Fe Bloom project. The property is located in the Brunswick belt where only limited exploration has been conducted. The project is supported, in part, by a C$20,000 grant from the New Brunswick Junior Mining Assistance program.
In 2016, Puma acquired 100 percent of the private company named Murray Brook Minerals with his exploration properties in the Legacy area. The Legacy copper-silver is considered to be a skarn deposit and the property consists of four block of claims which covers an area of about 1,368 hectares. We find an inferred resource (2015) of 520.000 tonnes graded 1.04 percent copper and 6.8 g/t silver.
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