Brodie Sutherland is a very happy geologist. As Tocvan Ventures (TOC:CNX) VP Exploration he is exploring two highly prospective properties, Pilar and El Picacho, in the Sonora State of Mexico and he is liking what he is seeing so far.
The Pilar Project is the more advanced of the two projects. A couple of weeks ago, Tocvan put out a press release announcing its plans for this property this season. Trenching, drilling and metallurgy are planned to follow up on last season’s work. In this release Sutherland is quoted as saying, “Last year was very successful in growing the potential size of the mineralized system at Pilar, we look forward to building off that success again this year with continued drilling and trenching across the property. In addition, bulk sample composites taken from surface will aim to show our mineralized oxide zone is amenable to conventional heap leach processes.”
5000-8000 meters of drilling is anticipated which should extend the resource. However, the trenching and, effectively, bulk sampling at Pilar may be even more interesting to investors. It is one thing to have identified a deposit and work on delineating it, it is quite another to determine if the deposit can be mined profitably. That depends on the metallurgy of the deposit.
“By the end of the month we’ll have an excavator at Pilar,” said Sutherland. “It’s our primary focus. We’ll be drilling until July and we will be drilling step out holes from the Main Zone.”
Doing metallurgy on bulk samples of material from Pilar will give Tocvan an idea of what sort of recovery rates can be achieved. Tocvan is well on its way to understanding the geology at Pilar, but having a good bulk sample metallurgical result would derisk the project significantly. The bulk samples will be taken at surface, however the company plans to drill “metallurgical” holes to obtain material at depth and to subject that material to metallurgical testing. A fuller metallurgical picture of the project as a whole when the results from the surface bulk samples are compared with the results of the material obtained at depth.
Investors can expect a steady news flow from the Pilar and that news will come at a reasonable cost. “We contract out the drilling,” said Sutherland. “Reverse circulation drilling runs us about $50 a meter. So we can get a lot done at a good price.”
El Picacho is Tocvan’s new project acquired recently from Millrock Resources. It is 18 kilometers away from the San Francisco gold and silver mine. A mine which has produced 3 million ounces of gold and 50 million ounces of silver.
“We see the same geology at surface,” said Sutherland. “We think Picacho may be an analog of the San Francisco mine. And we have a geologist working for us who worked at that mine.”
Picacho is at a very early exploration stage but Sutherland and Tocvan have big plans. The company outlined those plans in a November 15, 2021 press release. In that release Sutherland states, “To date, five primary target areas have been defined showing excellent potential from surface rock and channel sampling. Each target area has several historic mine workings along key structures further confirming the potential for a broad mineralized system. The majority of these targets have never been drill tested, and we look forward to advancing these targets to drill ready status over the next year.”
“We have a 6 kilometre prospective trend,” said Sutherland. “Other than a couple of reconnaissance holes none of this has been drilled. There are lots of old artisanal workings.”
“What we’re looking forward to is getting on the ground and sampling on and around the mineralized structures. We want to get an eye into the structure and alteration,” said Sutherland. “Then we’ll trench and sample right across the mineralized zones. That will let us identify drill targets.”
The company has already identified areas to drill beginning with San Ramon. “There’s been very little drilling at San Ramon, but there has been extensive trenching,” said Sutherland. “We think there is grade and mineralization at depth. It’s a bit more advanced than the other areas.”
Once the drill targets have been identified, Tocvan will deploy drills to drill to about 200 meters depth. “We’re looking for information,” said Sutherland. “Things go quicker with shallow holes.”
Two other areas are in Sutherland’s sights. “At Jabali there is historic trenching we can use,” said Sutherland. “At Cornea we have 2 kilometers of mineralization in a broadly mineralized system. We also have drilling from Phelps Dodge a previous property owner.”
With two projects producing results, Tocvan is pretty certain to have a solid news flow from now until July of 2022. News from Pilar will likely extend the deposit and, eventually the resource and give investors a good idea of what to expect in terms of metal recovery. At Picacho, the news will be all about finding structures and decent grade intervals.
Tocvan keeps its shares outstanding very tight. It is in the middle of a raise now, but that raise will not create significant dilution. Sutherland will have the cash he needs to explore and drill, while Derek Wood, CEO is experienced in the markets to raise more than he needs to.
Tocvan shares are trading at $1.10 with 30.8 million outstanding for a market cap of $33,862,330.