Richard Spencer, president and director at Aurania Resources, explains what’s next for the company’s Lost Cities – Cutucu project.
Aurania Resources (TSXV:ARU) began making headlines last year, when news surfaced that Keith Barron of Fruta del Norte fame was on the hunt for two lost gold settlements in Ecuador.
At the recent Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, Richard Spencer, president and director at the company, was able to share what Aurania has been up to since then. Most importantly, he stressed that while there’s a lot of history behind the company, it’s now working on methodical exploration.
“It’s got this big historical story — the two lost cities — and that was a crucial phase of the company,” Spencer explained. “The critical thing about that is that it’s what got us involved in a specific geographical area … it’s a long trend of a mineral belt that’s got a huge mineral endowment.”
He added, “now we’re doing the scientific exploration to get to actually find the deposit.” So far, Aurania’s work has included stream sediment sampling and geophysics, and according to Spencer 2018 will bring further stream sediment work, with follow-up work on targets to come after.
Watch the video above to learn more about what’s next for Aurania and what it’s like to operate an exploration company in Ecuador. The transcript for this interview is available below.
INN: The company has a very interesting story behind it. Can you tell me a little bit about the background?
RS: It’s got this big historical story — the two lost cities — and that was a crucial phase of the company. The critical thing about that is that it’s what got us involved in a specific geographical area. But from a geological perspective, it’s a long trend of a mineral belt that’s got a huge mineral endowment. So the historical stuff got us in there, but now we’re doing the scientific exploration to get to actually find the deposit.
INN: Can you tell me how you got involved with Aurania Resources?
RS: I’ve worked with Keith Barron, who’s the founder of the company; I’ve worked with him for about 10 years. And he was involved in the historical side of it — going through all the archives and finding out where he thinks that these two cities were.
He talked to me about that concept, and I had to think, well, from that point of view the jury’s out; but from a from a scientific point of view, I worked in the belt contiguous with it. I worked there for three years, and we were lucky enough to make a bunch of copper discoveries. He was talking about an area that was contiguous to that, and I believe fundamentally that that belt continues with the copper and gold deposits, [so] I was there like a flash because … it’s very seldom that one gets offered an exploration opportunity that makes so much sense.
INN: Can you tell me about some of the exploration work you’ve completed in the past year? Where are you at since then?
RS: We’re doing basic exploration, so we’re doing stream sediment sampling where the guys are just going up the streams and sampling the very fine material that’s been brought down by the streams. That’s very, very sensitive … the clays bind to the little metal ions that are in the water — very sensitive at picking up gold and other metals.
The other privilege that we’ve had is that we were able to raise enough cash to do the geophysics upfront, and when we were finding the copper deposits in the mid-90s, we were doing that with just boots on the ground. Only afterwards did we realize that flying an airborne magnetic survey would be so efficient at finding these copper deposits, because the copper deposits have a core that’s about a kilometer in diameter, and that’s very easy to pick up with a magnetic. So we’ve flown that now in our new concession area and … that just gives us a huge leg up, it allows us to identify more or less the areas that have got best potential for copper while we [are] working with the stream sediments to pick up the gold and other metals as well.
INN: Tell me a little bit about working in Ecuador. Obviously you have long history of being involved in the country.
RS: I went there in the mid-90s on a one-year contract and ended up staying 10 years. This particular area, it’s dense jungle, topographically very, very hilly. It’s a tough area … when we’re asking for a young geologist to join us, we have two criteria. One is that they’re Rambo-like, because we need that kind of physical aspect. But we also need experience, so we need them to have the experience of a 50-year old … that makes it a little bit challenging, but we’re looking for those people. We’ve got a really good team — all Ecuadorian, and physically it’s a tough, challenging terrain, but it’s incredibly good fun. You know, we’re working with the local communities … they think that we’re nuts because we’re paying them for stuff that they do anyway. For a very young geologist it’s just spectacularly interesting thing to be involved in with the local communities.
And doing this grassroots exploration — I mean, this is an area that’s never been explored before, and so one of the challenges is for us to keep our minds open, you know. We’re looking for gold principally, copper as well … everyone’s talking about the electric metals, but copper is the fundamental electric metal, and so we’ve got these exciting commodities and an incredibly exciting environment to be looking for them in as well.
INN: We’re at the beginning of the new year — can you talk a little about what you have planned for 2018 at the project?
RS: The stream sediment program is going to be running for another 18 months or so. So those Rambo-type individuals are out there doing their thing, but as soon as they identify target areas, we’re bringing in more experienced people … the guys who are doing that stream sediment sampling — they’re literally out in two-man tents for weeks at a time, sleeping in hammocks and all that. That’s a bit tough for the older guys, so we’ve got a sort of second tier of the exploration group that’s made up of these more experienced people that are doing the follow up once the targets are identified.
So the stream sediments are going to be running, [and] the follow up of the targets is going to be ongoing behind that. And then we plan to be doing some scout drilling in the second half of the year, where we would just drill maybe three to five holes on the targets that we’ve identified, just to help us prioritize which ones are better. Because very often the best-looking target at surface doesn’t necessarily turn out to be the most exciting target once you’ve drilled it.
INN: Anything else investors should be watching for at the company or aware of?
RS: One gets asked what’s unique about the company, and I think there are a couple of unique features to it. The one is that we’re on trend of an incredibly well-endowed mineral belt, and the area that we’re in has never been explored before, so that’s one thing that’s unique.
The other thing is the people. Keith Barron who … is the CEO of the company, he doesn’t need this work, he’s there because he’s passionate about it, passionate about generating shareholder value … he doesn’t draw a salary or anything, he is there because he wants a repeat of his prior discovery that created an enormous amount of shareholder value, and we have an opportunity to create that shareholder value and hopefully to do even more.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.