- As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, so too is the mining industry
- Orea Mining is bringing its responsible mining vision to the forefront
- Orea’s Maripa Gold project is located in the Guiana Shield gold district, which has become a “hotbed of interest for gold companies”
Mining is essential for progress in today’s world of disruptive technological advances. There are many factors at play now that are fueling the most recent gold bull market — an economic contraction, excess in money printing, cyclical inflation, and more.
Before gold companies rush in and take advantage of the current market, they need to understand the comprehensive environment in which they operate. Deloitte’s 2020 report on mining trends reaffirms the notion that “Investors are demanding greater transparency about the true social, economic and environmental impact of sectors such as mining.”
Based on EY’s research, they have found that “Investors are demanding mining companies adopt a holistic view towards environmental, social and governance issues. Decisions and actions at all levels of companies need to maintain and enhance the level of trust with stakeholders.”
Additionally, EY emphasizes that “A focus on the environment, safety, talent, and governance is vital to establish a social contract between communities and the industry.”
As the mining industry continues to evolve in line with the gold market, miners have become increasingly proactive. Going forward, leading companies will extract resources far more responsibly. These efforts result in sustainable development, which is a crucial way to minimize environmental impact through more efficient technologies. Ultimately, this benefits society and all corporate stakeholders.
A corporate vision for Orea Mining
When it comes to sustainable and responsible practices, Orea Mining Corp. (TSX: OREA; OTCQX: OREAF), formerly known as Columbus Gold Corp. (TSX: CGT, OTCQX: CGTFF), has made responsible mining a central tenet of its corporate vision. This aspect of the company’s DNA has always been present, but now the company is putting this vision on a more prominent stage, which they spell out in their Responsible Mining Charter. This internal guide directs Orea’s decisions toward continuous improvement to maximize the positive impact of its activities throughout its entire value chain.
Moreover, Orea strives to align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which are a general framework that informs mining companies about the various impacts of the industry’s activities, taking into consideration environmental, economic, and social aspects. With this in mind, the company has worked to identify deposits early on in the exploration stage to determine if they could be mined economically and without a large environmental imprint.
“The Guiana Shield has only seen 30 years of industrial-scale mining. It remains underexplored compared to its geological counterpart in West Africa, with a gold endowment of only one-third of that of West Africa, estimated at 10,000 tons of gold.”
— Rock Lefrançois, President and CEO, Orea Mining Corp.
All of Orea’s efforts are crucial as the company operates in the Guiana Shield, which is “Located on the northern coast of South America and encompasses Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, southern Venezuela and parts of Colombia and northern Brazil.” The Guiana Shield is largely under-explored compared to West Africa (30 vs 100 years of industrial mining history), and French Guiana, specifically covers over 35,000 km2 of prospective and under-explored Greenstone Belt terrain. What’s more, the region is host to major mining companies including Newmont Mining, Iamgold, and Barrick Gold.
Orea’s President and CEO, Rock Lefrançois, notes, “The Guiana Shield has only seen 30 years of industrial-scale mining. It remains underexplored compared to its geological counterpart in West Africa, with a gold endowment of only one-third of that of West Africa, estimated at 10,000 tons of gold.”
With all of this in mind, Orea follows the principles of its Responsible Mining Charter as it operates in French Guiana, an overseas region and department of France. As a French territory, European Union regulations apply and are some of the strictest environmental guidelines in the world.
Tapping the underexplored Guiana Shield and beyond
The Guiana Shield is part of the same geological terrain as West Africa, separated by the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean over 160 million years ago.
Orea Mining has two gold projects in this region, and an experienced technical team with a mandate and budget to expand its portfolio — both great reasons for Orea and its investors to be excited.
The company’s first project is located in Northwestern French Guiana and is known as Montagne d’Or, which is a joint venture project. The company holds 44.99 per cent and Nordgold, the operator, holds the balance of 55.01 per cent.
Montagne d’Or is a world-class volcanogenic gold deposit, hosting 3.85 million measured and indicated gold resource ounces, plus 960,000 gold ounces in the inferred category. The 2017 Bankable Feasibility Study projects an annual output of 237,000 gold ounces over its first decade of production, at an all-in sustaining cost of just USD$749 per ounce. The project is at the mine permitting stage.
Additionally, jobs at this project are prioritized for the local community, budgeted and projected to be over 700 related to mining, plant and camp work, as well as administrative services. Equally important to note is that Orea launched an Environmental and Social Impact Study (ESIS) in 2014 to identify impacts on the environment (physical and biological) and on populations, including human activities.
Apart from Montagne d’Or, Orea Mining is advancing the Maripa gold exploration project, in Eastern French Guiana, where past drilling returned excellent near-surface results. The company also has an option to acquire a 70 per cent interest in the project from Iamgold.
But here’s where it gets especially interesting.
Maripa exhibits similar geology to the Rosebel gold mine in neighbouring Suriname, highlighted by a faulted contact between volcanic assemblages of the Paramaca Formation and younger pull-apart basin sediments of the Upper Detrital Unit. Also, consider that Rosebel itself hosts an impressive 15.2 million gold ounces.
And Maripa is located along a paved road, just 60 km south of the capital city Cayenne. With excellent access, the project has the potential to host a significant gold deposit.
The property has seen historical drilling of 9,000 m, partially defining five broad gold zones. Though so far limited to shallow depth drilling, intercepts have shown economic results including 4.3 g/t gold over 36 m; 12.4 g/t gold over 10.5 m; 1.8 g/t gold over 34.5 m, 2.5 g/t gold over 25.5 m and 2.2 g/t gold over 21.5 m.
Orea’s initial prospecting work in the northern half of Maripa led to the discovery of four new quartz-gold vein systems with high-grade potential.
In order to advance Maripa, Orea has budgeted $3.8 million in 2020, including a planned 10,000 m drill program over two phases to follow up on these discoveries and expand the data. This will set the stage for infill drilling and a resource estimate in 2021.
To bring further geographical diversification and growth, management is actively seeking the acquisition of a near-production project within the Guiana Shield with a high-grade gold deposit amenable to underground development, allowing for a reduced environmental footprint utilizing innovative technologies.
This means that any new project will strive to optimize its environmental, social, and economic impacts.
Strategic investor shares vision for responsibility and growth
A strategic partnership was formed with a Paris-based OCIM group for corporate development. Orea and OCIM share the same values in the sustainable development of precious metals assets and have arranged the partnership to leverage Orea’s growth strategy. OCIM is a significant shareholder in Orea and currently holds an 11.1 per cent interest.
“Orea’s sustainable approach to exploration and mining will help de-risk high-quality projects in French Guiana by positioning Orea as a responsible operator for sustainable development, compatible with International and French environmental and social standards.”
— Rock Lefrançois, CEO, Orea Mining Corp.
The genesis of Orea Mining is a natural progression from Columbus Gold as part of a deeper metamorphosis evolving from an explorer and developer to also a producer. This transition has an emphasis on sustainable and responsible mining, which will ultimately drive value for investors. Lefrançois adds, “Orea’s sustainable approach to exploration and mining will help de-risk high-quality projects in French Guiana by positioning Orea as a responsible operator for sustainable development, compatible with International and French environmental and social standards.”
The priority for 2020 remains the acquisition of an additional advanced-stage gold project in South America — several opportunities have been identified and are currently under evaluation.