When you have been in the junior resource company business – as a broker or an investor relations professional – you see a lot of companies which are flawed. Too many shares out, management lining its own pockets, projects which have no real chance. Derek Wood, having worked in various aspects within the Canadian Capital Markets since the early 90s, had seen it all and he decided that he would put together a company and do it right.
“Two years ago Tocvan Ventures (C.TOC),” was created said Wood. “We started with a very advanced qualifying property Rogers Creek in southern BC. A copper-gold porphyry. But porphyries cost a lot of money to drill. They can be worth a lot too. We met our exploration obligation in Year 1 but we are not exploring there this year.”
“We went public with 10 million shares,” said Wood. “Mark Smethurst joined the company and he reviewed over 150 properties.”
The Pilar Gold Property is in the Sonora Gold District in the north-west of Mexico. Sonora was a good place to look for a project: 36.8% of Mexico’s annual gold production comes from the district. And Sonora is the Number One jurisdiction for silver production in the world.
The Pilar Property also had the great advantage of having previously been explored. Over 17,000 meters of drilling had been done over the last twenty-five years, the vast majority of this drilling has been done in two established areas in the northwest part of the property, the Main Zone and the North Hill Zone.. Tocvan believed that there might well be other zones.
“We saw intervals of high grade with values up to 50 grams of gold per ton,” said Wood. “It is an epithermal system which is shallow and at surface.”
Taking a systematic approach to the property, Smethurst and his team mapped, applied geophysics and soil and rock sampled. “We were able to indicate a second, parallel, high-grade zone,” said Smethurst. “The new zone is more about silver than gold and we’ve sampled pockets of more than 300 gpt silver.”
Smethurst described walking the property. “We were on the property for the first time in November,” said Smethurst. “We were finding over 200 gpt silver in rock samples and we were looking at rock outcrops. I walked over to an outcrop and realized that the whole outcrop was part of an epithermal boiling zone. What happens is that the hot, mineral bearing, fluids rise up out of the earth and hit the cool descending surface waters. The mixing of the fluids is the boiling zone and the minerals are deposited out over hundreds of meters.”
Using the data from past drilling, new soil and rock sampling and mapping, Smethurst and his team identified two new zones at the opposite end of the property from the Main Zone. These new discoveries are to the east and to the south of the property. The older data was turned into a 3D model of the property which gives Tocvan the ability to do less drilling and get more ounces. The overall system is fault controlled.”
Wood also realizes the importance of infrastructure for a mining project. “We can drive into the property. There is a local source of water and there is power nearby. Plus there is lots of manpower both in a town nearby and a few miles further in Hermosillo.”
It is early days on the Pilar property, but the scale of Wood and Smethurst’s ambition reminds me of the Minera Alamos’ Santana project also located in Sonora. Essentially, Santana has a large quantity of heap leachable material very close to surface, so, it appears, does the Pilar property.
To begin to understand just how much mineralization Pilar contains, Touvan plans to start drilling the targets it has identified in the fall, COVID permitting. Meanwhile they are doing the metallurgy and are looking at a big bulk sample. One advantage of Mexico is that permitting is much faster than in Canada.
With COVID in play, Smethurst is running the operation from the living room of his home. “Mexico is a great country to work in,” said Wood. “We have great human resources and we’re able to get local people to work on the project. Even with COVID we are able to keep going.”
For Wood this systematic approach allows Tocvan to position itself in the junior market. “We’re coming out of one of the worst periods the junior markets have ever been through,” said Wood. “There was literally no retail. But now we’re getting a look with stories like Great Bear. Just as importantly, we’re able to reach retail investors through alternative media and the internet. The gold and silver sector overall is attracting interest because, with all of the quantitative easing, people are looking for alternative stores of wealth.”
Tocvan is being carefully positioned to maximize shareholder value with a systematic drill campaign and then a big bulk sample. Because the mineralization begins at surface, Tocvan should be able to move quickly to actually designing and building a mine.
“Doing it right” means keeping costs low and timelines short. It means keeping the market well informed about Tocvan’s progress and drilling news. And, as nearly three decades in the brokerage business, taught Wood, it means advancing the Pillar project with a minimum of stock dilution. Add and emerging bull market for junior gold and silver explorers and Tocvan is on its way.