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zealllc.com / Scott Wright / November 28, 2014
South America has been a major beneficiary of the 2000s gold bull, party to some big discoveries by the mining companies flocking there. Some of these discoveries have already been developed, with top-three producers Peru, Brazil, and Chile for example seeing their collective gold output increase by 25% since 2001. And some are in the pipeline, with production on the horizon.
These pipeline projects come in all sizes and are scattered across the continent. Naturally there are many located within the borders of the top three. But many reside elsewhere, including such exploration hot spots as Argentina and Colombia. One of South America’s finest development-stage projects belongs not to the aforementioned major countries though. It resides in Guyana, a small sparsely-inhabited nation that many folks are unfamiliar with.
The few people who have heard of Guyana are the ones who recollect a key event in modern US history. But I’m sure the Guyanese aren’t thrilled that the event defining their country was the infamous Jonestown massacre, an ordeal that involved the only-ever assassination of an active-duty US congressman.
Also in the US, reality-TV junkies recently got familiarized with Guyana as the backdrop for a season of Discovery’s wildly popular show Gold Rush. In 2013 Guyana produced in the neighborhood of 450k ounces of gold, mostly from small-scale mines. If the artisanals could do it, so could Gold Rush star Todd Hoffman and team right?
Hoffman’s team failed miserably, producing only enough gold to pay the cab fare back to the airport. Though this failure was mostly self-induced, and entertaining, viewers did get to witness the challenges of mining in a dense tropical rainforest. Guyana’s artisanal miners, known locally as pork-knockers, must work very hard to scrape the gold out of the ground.
Guyana’s artisanal success has attracted more than greenhorns like Todd Hoffman though. It has garnered commercial attention from larger mining companies seeking to find the source deposits. These geologically savvy companies see the big picture of what Guyana has to offer. They understand the prolific Guiana Shield, and its propensity to host greenstone belts full of near-surface mineral deposits highly concentrated with gold. And most importantly, they recognize how vastly underexplored this country truly is.
Aptly named Guyana Goldfields is one company willing to take on Guyana’s challenges in order to score a source deposit. Founder and current Executive Chairman Patrick Sheridan was an early mover into this country, with his team commencing exploration back in the mid-1990s. And their watershed event was the 1998 procurement of the Aurora project.
Gold mineralization was actually discovered at Aurora over 100 years ago. It even saw a bit of mining in the middle of the 20th century, to the tune of approximately 100k ounces. But it didn’t really see any modern exploration until right before Guyana Goldfields took over.
It took several years to build up some exploration momentum considering the state of the gold market around the turn of the century.
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Thanks to BrotherJohnF