Despite decades of being one of the world’s top gold mining jurisdictions, Latin America has not waned when it comes to its relevance in the global precious metals market. In fact, top gold miners in the area are planning an increase in exploration with Newmont (NYSE: NEM) targeting full ownership of the Yanacocha gold mine.
With a desire to make mining more friendly to foreign investors and a dream of reaching $10 billion in mining exports by 2030, Argentina is one of the most favorable places for successful gold, silver and copper mining operations. The country has recently reduced export taxes from 12 percent to 8 percent and has reported that it would further reduce taxes.
Ecuador may be far away from Argentina, but it is certainly not far less exciting when it comes to mining potential. Ecuador is one of four South American countries containing part of the Andean Copper Belt, a region containing numerous tier 1 mines as well as reportedly half of the entire world’s copper. Given its confirmed gold and copper resources and lack of mining operations compared to nearby Peru and Chile (two of the other countries containing part of the Andean Copper Belt), Ecuador presents investors and mining companies with a relatively untouched source of copper as well as gold and silver.
Challenger Exploration (ASX: CEL) is an Australian-based mining exploration company that makes the best of both worlds by operating out of Argentina and Ecuador, with a focus on gold and copper exploration. The combination of its heavily experienced management team, its operations in areas of Argentina and Ecuador known for successful exploration and lucrative mineral acquisition, and positive geological results give Challenger Exploration an opportunity to succeed in its goals of gold and copper acquisition.
Given a positive future outlook on mining operations and the potential for successful additional mining, many mining companies have already begun operating out of Ecuador and/or continuing their already present operations. Companies include but are not limited to Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG), which has been regularly exporting gold since its initial industrial export in December of 2019, and Solaris Resources (TSE: SLS), which has reported positive early results.
“Copper is a good thing to own,” said Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow. Due to copper’s role in green energy, JPMorgan estimated that demand will increase from 1.8 million tonnes in 2021 to 3 million tonnes by 2025.
There are several reasons why Challenger Exploration is a potentially attractive option for investors. Not only is the company in a prime position to capitalize off of Argentina’s and Ecuador's increasingly mining friendly laws confirmed gold mines as well as untapped sources of copper, but its management team has impressive experience in mining operations and lucrative big-business.
- Challenger Exploration is an Australian-based mineral exploration company, with emphasis on gold and copper expansion in Argentina and Ecuador.
- The Hualian Gold Project is the first of Challenger Exploration’s projects and is located in the San Juan Province of Argentina, which is one of the most friendly mining areas of Argentina as well as one of the most lucrative for copper and gold mining.
- El Guayabo is the second of Challenger Exploration’s projects and is located in the part of the Andean Copper Belt running through southern Ecuador, which contains half of the world’s copper resources and has confirmed, yet untapped mineral resources.
- Copper has been of positive investor speculation in the recent past, making an untapped yet confirmed source of copper critical to the future.
- The company’s Argentinian project is flanked by both Newmont and Glencore, demonstrating high potential for multi-million ounce yields.
Hualilan Gold Project
The Hualian Gold Project is located in the San Juan Province of Argentina, which has friendlier mining operations as well as successful, active copper and gold mines. As its name suggests, the Hualian Project is Challenger Exploration’s effort in gaining access to gold. Numerous competitors, including Glencore’s El Pachon and McEwen Mining’s Los Azules, are present in the same province.
- 9-rigs turning on site with recent drill results including 63.3m at 8.5 g/t Au, 7.9 g/t Ag, 2.9% Zn and 51.6m at 3.9 g/t Au, 11.8 g/t Ag, 1.0% Zn.
- NI 43-101 Estimate: A historical NI 431-101 estimate revealed that the project could contain 627,000 Oz Au at 13.7 g/t gold, as well as 150 drill-holes that date back to the 1970s.
- Developed Infrastructure: Due to the climate, topography, and infrastructure, the project is well accessible via multiple sealed and unsealed roads and can be operated year-round.
- High Yields: Measured and inferred resources of gold are positive, including measured 299,578 tonnes averaging 14.2 grams per tonne of gold and an inferred 976,539 tonnes at 13.4 grams per tonne of gold.
- Multiple Mining Leases: This project contains 14 mining leases. Additionally, it has an exploration license application that covers 26 square kilometers of surrounding land
El Guayabo Project
The El Guayabo Project is located in the Andean Copper Belt of Ecuador, which contains multiple tier 1 copper and gold projects as well as half the world’s copper resources. Ecuador is relatively unexplored with respect to copper and gold in the Andean Copper Belt, representing a fairly untapped source of gold and copper.
- Drilling Results: Notable results include but are not limited to 156m at 2.6 g/t silver + 9.7 g/t silver + 0.2% copper and 112m at 0.6 % copper +0.7 g/t silver +14.7 g/t silver.
- Developed Infrastructure: Due to the topography and development, the project is easily accessible via air services and paved as well as gravel road. Infrastructure includes an exploration camp as well as a core processing and storage facility.
Kris Knauer - CEO and Managing Director
Kris Knauer started his career as an exploration geologist before moving into investment banking, initially as a mining analyst. Knauer is an experienced listed company CEO. He led the listing of a package of copper/gold assets in Saudi Arabia to create Citadel Resources (ASX: CGG) becoming the Managing Director for the first 18 months. Citadel completed a DFS on the Jabal Sayid copper project in Saudi Arabia prior to being taken over for $1 billion.
Sergio Rotondo -
Sergio Rotondo holds a Masters Degree in Economics from University of CEMA and an international MBA Degree from University of CEMA. Rotondo has an extensive background in managing billion-dollar construction projects from design through completion, and has partnered with some of Argentina’s largest real estate developers and designers.
Scott Funston -
CFO and Finance Director
Scott Funston is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary with nearly twenty years’ experience in the mining industry and accounting profession. His expertise is financial management, regulatory compliance and corporate advice. Funston possesses a strong knowledge of the Australian Securities Exchange requirements and has previously assisted a number of ASX listed resources companies as CFO and Company Secretary operating in Australia, South America, Asia, Africa, USA. Most recently he was CFO and Company Secretary of Avanco Resources, a Brazilian focussed copper and gold producer, that was acquired by Oz Minerals Limited.
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