Max Resource Corp (TSX.V:MXR; OTC:MXROF; Frankfurt:M1D2) has procured a major section of new ground at its CESAR copper-silver project in Colombia.
The Vancouver-based company reported acquiring 140 kilometers of an area it considers highly prospective for copper-silver mineralization. Under the deal, Max agreed to pay USD$175,000 to secure 20 mineral applications. The vendor retains a 3% net smelter returns royalty (NSR) and Max has the exclusive right to purchase 100% of the NSR for $4 million any time before production.
“CESAR West was identified through surface structural mapping, interpretation of available seismic sections and drill core review. The Max in-country field crew have commenced sampling and mapping for Jurassic host rock and copper-silver mineralization along this new continuous 140-kilometer-long landholding,” says Max’s CEO, Brett Matich, in the Jan. 27 news release.
“Max has achieved a major milestone, expanding its landholdings in the Cesar Basin by over 300%. The newly discovered area lies along the central-western part of the Cesar Basin, and together with the recent copper discovery at depth, supports the regional-scale potential of the CESAR project,” he concluded.
District scale opportunity
I must say, it is extremely rare for a junior resource company the size of Max — valued at just $23 million as of Wednesday, Jan. 27 — to come by this much ground in a greenfield (no mining has yet taken place) project.
Max Resource is developing a large sedimentary system, with high-grade discoveries over a 200-km belt. Grades of up to 34% copper and 656 grams per tonne silver have been assayed from surface outcrops. The company now has an additional 140 km to explore, at CESAR West. This year Max plans on sampling and mapping for Jurassic-age host rock and copper-silver mineralization along this new 140-km-long landholding.
In a recent AOTH video Max’s CEO Brett Matich points out the scale of the project, showing on a map how it is of a similar size to Poland’s immense “Kupferschiefer” copper-silver deposits. (read more about the Kupferschiefer comparison below).
Since November 2019, Max has been identifying stratabound copper and silver zones within a 100 by 20-kilometer area (Kupferschiefer is 20 km by 15 km), at their CESAR copper silver project in northeastern Colombia.
Max continues to expand the surface “Kupferschiefer-style” mineralization at CESAR, using continuous rock chip panel samples and composite grab samples to identify structures, continuity of thickness, strike length and potential size, prior to drilling.
In Poland’s Kupferschiefer deposits, continuous mineralization extends down dip and laterally for many kilometers. Could the mineralization at CESAR do the same? If so, Max could be looking at a district-scale, even a regionally extensive copper-silver mineralized system.
Though early-stage, CESAR is one of the few copper projects that is demonstrating the massive scale needed to interest a major. (three large mining companies have already come into the project, more on that below)
Moreover, and this is really important, Max doesn’t have to drill it, not at this stage. The whole idea is to identify the mineralized horizons and dips, then partner with a larger company, or companies, to further develop the deposit, sell the project, or get bought out.
So far, Max has managed to identify extensive copper-silver mineralization through rock chip sampling because rivers, streams and creeks cut across and expose the multiple horizons for a considerable depth.
Copper at depth
In fact, Max has gone a step further in verifying the exploration model at CESAR, based on analysis of recently obtained historical drill core.
Earlier this month the company reported that stratabound copper-silver mineralization found at surface, extends for over 400m down dip.
In the Jan. 12 news release, Max notes that “The copper enriched intervals of the historic drill core are hosted in grey sandstone that changes to red (hematite rich) outside copper enrichment (refer to Figure 2). This zonation from red hematite enriched sandstone to grey is very characteristic of Poland’s Kupferschiefer and represents reducing environment where copper was precipitated from solution to form the Kupferschiefer copper-silver deposits.”
“Over the past year Max has demonstrated the regional scale and lateral continuity of the CESAR stratabound copper-silver mineralization, already traced for over 200 kilometers along strike and now encountered in historical drill core extending down dip to depths in excess of 400 meters,” says Matich.
The finding is critical for Max, which is quietly advancing one of the world’s most promising copper-silver projects in northeastern Colombia, along the Andean Copper Belt that is world-renowned for its porphyry deposits.
This sedimentary basin is a massive geological feature that extends for over 1,000 km from the northern tip of Colombia southwards through Ecuador and Peru. The basin was a seabed trapped behind the uplifting Cordillera mountain ranges, and the model suggests that rich copper and silver-bearing fluids flooded up into the basin and deposited as they encountered organic matter on the seafloor.
As such, CESAR represents a type of sediment-hosted copper mineralization that is typically flat-lying, near surface, and is known to be extensive in Africa, Poland and Colombia. These types of deposits are generally higher grade than copper porphyry deposits.
The CESAR project area enjoys major infrastructure thanks to existing oil, gas and coal mining operations including Cerrejon, the largest coal mine in Latin America, jointly owned by global miners BHP, XStrata and Anglo American. However, this area has only seen limited copper exploration.
Recognizing the prospect of a major copper discovery in the Cesar region, Max Resource acquired full ownership of the CESAR property shortly after its discovery in the fall of 2019, and embarked on a first-pass exploration program focused on identifying surface outcrops.
Exploration is happening on multiple fronts within the CESAR target zone, along a major part of a 200-km-long sediment-hosted copper-silver belt.
Historical drill core analysis
In December, MXR began an analysis of historical drill core and seismic data from the Cesar basin to determine the extent of mineralization down dip from surface.
This analysis is part of a study conducted in collaboration with the Ingeniería Geológica Universidad Nacional de Colombia (IGUN) at the Colombian Geological Survey Facility.
The abundance of historical diamond drill core and related seismic data from oil and gas operations in the sedimentary Cesar basin, will allow Max to model the paleo-topography of the mineralized stratabound horizon at CESAR. This will help to identify prospective areas for drilling.
Typical mineral exploration doesn’t drill 2,000-meter holes and conduct seismic surveys as it is far too expensive, even though this oil and gas type of exploration is the best method for exploring sedimentary-hosted mineralization. By analyzing existing drill hole data, Max is likely saving tens of millions in exploration costs.
According to the company, the oil and gas drill cores, which are securely stored at the Colombian Geological Survey Facility as required by the Colombian government, have never been studied from a metals perspective.
The analysis concentrates on drill core intersecting the prospective Jurassic stratigraphy, focusing on XRF measurements, binocular microscope studies, and photography of both selected mineralized intervals and stratigraphic contacts. The results and seismic sections are being integrated with the company’s existing database to help build a 3D structural model.
According to Matich, “The importance of the archived IGUN historic drill core cannot be understated. The modelling should confirm the continuity of Jurassic stratigraphy and the copper-silver horizons from surface to considerable depths down dip. In addition, the study will greatly assist our targeted land expansion.”
This was the same method used by global miner KGHM for its sizeable Kupferschiefer copper deposits in Poland.
Kupferschiefer is Europe’s largest copper mine, with production in 2018 of 30 million tonnes copper, and 40 million ounces of silver in 2019, from an orebody 0.5 to 5.5 meters thick grading 1.49% copper and 48.6 g/t silver. The silver yield is almost twice the production of the world’s second largest silver mine.
Based on the CESAR North (AM North and AM South) to CESAR South discoveries at the opposite ends of the 200-km-long CESAR target zone, Max believes that this large surface footprint represents another “Kupferschiefer-type” mineralization on the other side of the Atlantic.
Exploration continues on the CESAR property, with outcrop samples repeatedly returning high grades and new discoveries leading to expanded copper holdings. Max believes the mineralization at CESAR is stratabound — meaning confined to a single stratigraphic (rock layer) unit — and Jurassic-age.
The fact that CESAR Cu-Ag stratabound mineralization appears to be large sub-horizontal sheets that repeatedly outcrop at surface, adds credibility to the Kupferschiefer comparison. Average grades of 1.0% copper and 20 g/t silver at CESAR also make a compelling case.
In a recent presentation, leading Kupferschiefer expert, Professor Adam Piestrzyński, highlighted numerous similarities between CESAR and Kupferschiefer including basin characteristics, lithology, mineralogy, deposit parameters, metal grades and origin of sulfur.
Given these similarities, it makes sense for the company to apply the Kupferschiefer exploration model to CESAR.
Kupferschiefer copper-silver mine in Poland:
CESAR stratabound copper-silver project in Colombia:
A notable difference is that the Kupferschiefer orebody starts at 500m below surface, whereas the CESAR mineralization starts at surface.
The company plans to continue drill core analysis, further advancing the structural model by superimposing drill holes and identified core intervals with copper, on to seismic sections and projecting the mineralized horizon to surface (see diagram below). All observed data is being recorded into the company’s database to construct a 3D model.
The structural study also provides a guide for Max’s land expansion strategy, and its ongoing CESAR copper-silver exploration programs.
Though still early-stage, Max’s exploration at CESAR has, in less than a year, led to three non-exclusive confidentiality agreements: one with a leading global copper producer, a second with a major mining company, and a third with a mid-tier copper explorer.
The first phase of the partnership with one of the yet-to-be-named companies, involves a technical study by Fathom Geophysics, currently underway.
The aim of the study is to map stratigraphic (rock layers) features that can help to pinpoint additional stratabound copper-silver mineral horizons at CESAR.
Concurrently, the ongoing structural study between IGUN and the Max team involves an analysis of historical drill core and seismic data on the Cesar basin, to determine the down-dipping extent of mineralization identified at surface.
If Max can demonstrate the potential “district scale” of CESAR, its possible, in our opinion, that a major may jump in early and buy out CESAR, as the prize could be far too big to ignore.
The company’s current priorities include regional geochemical sampling, structural modeling interpretation of seismic data, analysis of oil & gas drill cores and expansion of landholdings.
All of these efforts, combined with ongoing surface sampling at CESAR, a geophysical study, and analysis of oil and gas drill cores in pursuit of copper-silver mineralization at depth, practically ensures a steady flow of news from Max in the coming months.
Max Resource Corp.
TSXV:MXR, OTC:MXROF, Frankfurt:M1D1
Shares Outstanding 87.6m
Market cap Cdn$24.9m
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