Since its acquisition, exploration efforts at Yauricocha have been focused on expanding resources at depth and along strike and converting resources to reserves in the Central Mine area.
In 2014, delineation drilling was conducted on the 5-6 million tonne exploration target below the Central Mine area. The drilling demonstrated that the Catas orebody extends at least an additional 130 meters down dip and the Antacaca orebody extends at least an additional 250 meters at depth.
Yauricocha’s exploration projects have been grouped based on proximity to the mine area and include the Central Mine Area, near-mine target areas and regional early-stage exploration areas. Brief descriptions of each area are provided below.
CENTRAL MINE AREA
The Cuye deposit is located in a tongue of limestone within the Mascota intrusive stock and the France Chert, in the extreme northern part of the mineralized zone of the Yauricocha mine. This deposit is closely associated with the Mascota intrusive stock in the upper levels. It is of very irregular, tubular or pipe-like form that tends to expand at depth following the principal E-W system of fracturing. Its dip is not constant but varies from north to south. Its length is greatest in Level 575 and decreases towards the surface. Furthermore, its mineralization varies with depth, with the upper part Cu-Pb-Zn mineralized and grading to Cu at depth.
The mineralization is coated with residual silica that contains Au and Ag, and a thin supergene enrichment is observed down to Level 360. Mineralization consists of pyrite-silica and pyrite with enargite and tetrahedrite in the central part, and galena, sphalerite, chalcopyrite and pyrite in the peripheral zones with increments of chalcopyrite, hematite, magnetite and possibly gold below Level 770. The mineralization is banded and appears to follow the strike of the limestone and probably reflects its original stratification. The mineralization also occurs in bands that follow the E-W fracture system. In the upper levels, on Level 465, its contact with limestone is often sinuous with local brecciated areas of little width.
The main Catas deposit lies SE of the Cuye deposit and is located at the contact of the Jumasha limestone and the France Chert. It is a large deposit, both horizontally and vertically. It extends from the surface to below Level 720 and at Level 520 it reaches its greatest extent and occurrence of major mineralization. The Catas Principal deposit occurs in fractured and brecciated Jumasha limestone in contact with the France Chert and an intrusion, following the strike of the stratigraphy with persistent fracturing related to the NW-SE and E-W sets.
Mineralization consists principally of friable and/or massive pyrite, sphalerite, galena and minor amounts of chalcopyrite and bornite, with massive pyrite and/or breccia comprising the core of the deposit. Soft masses of friable pyrite, galena, sphalerite and minor chalcopyrite in a gangue of limestone form an irregular covering around this core. Drilling done by SIMSA during 1998 and drilling done from Level 920 by Minera Corona during 2005 intercepted the Catas deposit in a manner that determined the deposit persists to depth, increasing in size and defined as a Cu-Au deposit of chalcopyrite, pyrite, hematite and magnetite. Certain areas of the deposit have cores of sphalerite.
NEAR-MINE TARGET AREAS
On January 26 2016 the Company announced the discovery of a new high grade sulfide zone, referred to as the “Esperanza” zone, located 400 meters north of (and along strike from) the Central Mine and is well situated to be brought into the Company’s mine plan quickly. The Esperanza zone has returned the thickest sulfide intercepts in the 60 year mining history at Yauricocha. The discovery comes as part of ongoing drill testing of priority targets at its Yauricocha Mine. The exploration program on the Esperanza zone is ongoing and drilling has successfully extended the mineralized zone to the south and at depth. The current strike length of the zone is approximately 250 meters and the vertical extent of the zone is approximately 250 meters. Since discovery of the zone in 2015, 54 holes (9,856 meters) have been completed. A total of 39 holes (6,674 meters) have been completed to date in 2016, including 35 delineation holes (5,528 meters) and 4 additional exploration holes (1,146 meters). The mineralized zone remains open at depth to the north and south and additional exploration drilling in these areas will take place once access is available on the 1070 level starting in late second quarter. Please see press releases dated January 28, 2016, May 13, 2016 and May 24, 2016 for full details including tables of significant length weighted composite intervals and all images
Geologic mapping during 2014 in the area southwest of the Central Mine area has led to the discovery of five mineralized chimneys, i.e., solution breccias, within 400 meters of the mine. All five chimneys have been sampled in detail and two chimneys, Mascota Noroeste and Mascota Oeste Intermedio, have been tested by drilling with very encouraging results as reported in the Company's Dec 23, 2014 press release. The western chimneys are geologically similar to the high-grade, Ag-Pb-Zn Mascota oxide ore body currently being mined in the Central Mine, where grades range 200-300 g/t Ag, 6-10% Pb and 1-3% Zn. Follow-up surface and underground drilling of the chimney discoveries is planned for 2015.
This area is underlain by granodiorite that hosts copper-silver veins in E-W trending faults. The veins are similar to the Cuye ore body of the Central Mine area, which historically produced 1.2 million tonnes of ore at average grades of 2.5% Cu and 90.6 g/t Ag.The Cuye ore body has an additional 164,000 tonnes in reserve and is open laterally and to depth.
The Victoria vein was mined during 1969-1976 and 1994-1996 by Centromin, but only to a shallow depth, and it produced 23,807 tonnes averaging 81 g/t Ag, 0.43% Pb, 2.04% Cu and 0.65% Zn. The vein is open to depth and along strike.
This area lies within the Victoria target area but outside the veined area. Mineralized breccias hosted by granodiorite contain pyrite, and surface rock-chip sampling has yielded gold contents up to 15.0 g/t, with an average grade of 2.16 g/t Au.
This area is underlain by a sequence of calcareous red lutites, pure limestones and reddish arenaceous limestone that hosts breccias containing polymetallic mineralization. It is located about 2 km NE of the Victoria-Adrico target.
This area is underlain by limestone that hosts chimney-type, lead-oxide mineralization.
REGIONAL TARGET AREAS
This area hosts polymetallic veins within an intrusive granodiorite. During 1991-1997, Centromin mined the Poggi 1 vein and produced 70,786 tonnes of ore at average grades of 97 g/t Ag, 2.28% Pb, 0.53% Cu and 5.89% Zn. Abundant veins and veinlets occur over an area of 2 km2 and stockworks of veins occur in large portions of the veined area. The potential for open-pitable stockwork deposits as well as vein-hosted deposits is considered to be high by the mine’s staff.
This area is at the contact between the Jumasha limestone and an intrusive granodiorite, the setting where many of the mine’s deposits occur. Éxito Sur lies 1 km south of the inactive Éxito mine, where Centromin produced 258,634 tonnes averaging 63 g/t Ag, 2.87% Pb, 0.13% Cu and 9.73% Zn between mid-1991 to 1998. Subsequently, Minera Corona produced 277,244 tonnes averaging 63 g/t Ag, 2.14% Pb, 0.18% Cu and 12.06% Zn from 2004-2008.
At Éxito Sur, extensive manganese mineralization occurs on the surface that has been explored by drifting and drilling only to shallow depths. The manganese mineralization is inferred to indicate massive polymetallic mineralization at depth. Future drilling will include deeper holes to test this concept.
This fault is a major regional fault that trends NNW-SSE for several kilometers and is a major ore-controlling fault in the Yauricocha mine. Exploration along the fault to the southeast of the mine is designed to test this portion of the fault for additional deposits. The primary targets are dilational areas along the fault, similar to the mineralized areas in the Central Mine Area.
These early-stage targets have no prior exploration work; however, ancient workings are known and the Company believes there is potential for mineralization. The targets are replacement-style polymetallic mineralization at the contacts of granodiorite with limestone of the Jumasha Formation and intercalated limestone, arenites and lutites of the Oyon/Chimu Formation.