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ECR Minerals to recommence work on SLM Gold Project, Argentina

The directors of ECR Minerals plc (the “Directors”) are pleased to provide the following update regarding the SLM gold project in La Rioja, Argentina. The SLM gold project is 100% held by ECR’s wholly owned Argentine subsidiary Ochre Mining SA (“Ochre”).

The project comprises three key prospects: El Abra, JV (particularly the JV14 zone) and Maestro Agüero. Summary information regarding each of the three prospects is contained in ECR’s announcement dated 2 September 2014.

Highlights:

  • The Directors have decided to recommence on-the-ground activities to advance the SLM project. Drilling at El Abra and JV14 is planned for later in 2017
  • An Exploration Target has been determined for the El Abra prospect and JV14 zone in accordance with the JORC Code (see below)

The decision to recommence work at the SLM project has been taken following a visit to Argentina in December 2016 by three of the Directors: Craig Brown, CEO; Ivor Jones, COO; and Christian Dennis, Non-Executive Director. The visit included site inspections at the El Abra and Maestro Agüero prospects, as well as discussions with the provincial government in La Rioja and several of Ochre’s former staff members and consultants. A further announcement will be made in due course regarding the timescale for the planned drilling programme.

Craig Brown, CEO of ECR Minerals, commented:

“Our December 2016 visit to Argentina was a highly productive one; it enabled the Directors to confirm that the SLM gold project is of significant prospectivity, and that following the change of national government in late 2015, Argentina and the SLM project are worthy of ECR’s attention. We look forward to re-establishing ECR’s presence on the ground in southern La Rioja Province and to reporting back to shareholders regarding progress.”

JORC Compliant Exploration Targets

Previous exploration results have been collated and used to develop grade-tonnage models of El Abra and JV14. Whilst the robustness of the data has not been sufficiently determined for Mineral Resource estimation, it has allowed a review of the mineralisation and the development of Exploration Targets for El Abra and JV14 in accordance with the JORC Code.

JV14 Exploration Target

Category   Cutoff

(g/t)

  Tonnes
(thousand)
  Gold
(g/t)
 
       
Lower value   0.5 g/t Au   2,000   1.8  
Upper value   0.75 g/t Au   1,600   2.1  

Note that the potential quantity and grade is conceptual in nature, that there has been insufficient exploration to estimate a Mineral Resource and that it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the estimation of a Mineral Resource.

El Abra Exploration Target

Category   Cutoff   Tonnes
(thousand)
  Gold
(g/t)
 
       
Lower value   2 g/t Au   50   11.7  
Upper value   5 g/t Au   40   14.0  

Note that the potential quantity and grade is conceptual in nature, that there has been insufficient exploration to estimate a Mineral Resource and that it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the estimation of a Mineral Resource.

Whilst there is a reasonable amount of data available for grade-tonnage estimation, additional information is required to define a Mineral Resource. It is expected that some of the information required will be available from ECR’s archives, but some of it will necessarily come from the acquisition of new data by means of further drilling. At this stage, no assessment of potential economic extraction methods has been made, other than that it is expected that El Abra would need to be mined largely from underground as it is narrow and relatively high grade, whilst JV14 would need to be largely mined by open cut methods because of the relatively low grade and relatively broad nature of the target mineralisation.

Details of the drilling currently planned to test the validity of the Exploration Targets are provided below. Further information and explanation regarding the Exploration Targets is provided in a technical report entitled ‘Exploration Target - Sierra de las Minas’ which will be available shortly on ECR’s website.

Drilling Programme

A drill programme of approximately 2000 metres (m) has been planned for the JV zone. The aim of the drilling is to provide sufficient information, along with additional investigation into work already completed, so that a Mineral Resource can be prepared for the JV14 prospect.

An additional 300m has been planned for the El Abra prospect. The aim of this drilling is to test the high grade mineralisation intersected at approximately 100m depth in 2012 drilling by ECR.

ECR is planning to complete the proposed drilling later this year. The objective of the drilling will be to enable the estimation of Mineral Resources for both El Abra and JV14.

Esperanza Plant Site

Whilst in Argentina, the ECR team also visited the Esperanza Resources SA (“Esperanza”) plant site, which is located approximately 4km, 9km and 44km (straight line distances) from the Maestro Agüero, JV and El Abra prospects, respectively. Ochre signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Esperanza in 2015, with regard to the possibility of cooperation for the processing of material from Ochre’s licence areas.

The Directors believe it may be beneficial in future to acquire the Esperanza plant, plant site and infrastructure in order to support the development of Ochre’s activities at SLM. The plant site hosts a small scale processing plant, offices and accommodation units, and is located on several hectares of land. Acquisition of the plant, site and infrastructure would provide Ochre with a permitted small scale processing facility which would potentially be suitable, with some modifications, for metallurgical test work and gold production. The acquisition would be subject to the agreement of satisfactory commercial terms with Esperanza. As an alternative, the Directors may consider the possibility of acquiring a similar site in the area and establishing a new facility.