Spotlight: Orla aiming for swift progress at Camino Rojo

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Orla Mining plans to quickly advance the Camino Rojo oxide project in Mexico to a construction decision.

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Orla acquired the Zacatecas state gold-silver asset from Goldcorp earlier in November, with the latter retaining a controlling interest in an additional possible sulfide operation.


Camino Rojo's concessions cover 200,000ha close to Goldcorp's Peñasquito mine.

The project was discovered in 2007 by Canplats Resources, which produced a PEA in 2009. Canplats was taken over by Goldcorp the following year.

Gold and silver is contained in a mix of oxide, sulfide and transitional ore.

Goldcorp previously planned to develop Camino Rojo as an additional source of ore for Peñasquito. The company has sold a string of non-core assets over the past year.


Orla's immediate focus is the potential for an open pit, heap leach oxide project.

The latest mineral reserve estimate for oxide and transitional ore stands at 75.5Mt, containing 1.70Moz gold and 34.5Moz silver at grades of 0.70g/t and 14.22g/t, respectively.

Orla plans to complete an updated resource estimate, which is considered historical as it was prepared by Goldcorp prior to Orla's agreement to acquire the asset.

The company aims to advance the oxide portion of the deposit to a production decision as quickly as possible, it said in November.


While outdated, Canplats' 2009 PEA suggests the oxide project could be a highly profitable project for Orla.

The study proposed a 20,000t/d heap leach, open pit operation, producing 122,300oz/y gold and 902,100oz/y silver over a 10.4-year mine life, for initial capex of US$134mn.

Pre-tax IRR was 65.7% at spot prices at the time, of US$1,036/oz gold and US$17.19/oz silver. Gold is currently trading almost US$250 higher.



Orla also plans to continue to evaluate options for Camino Rojo's sulfide deposit.

Goldcorp retains the option to enter a joint venture with Orla in the event that a sulfide project is defined in a PFS.

Under the JV, Goldcorp will hold a 70% stake in a sulfide project in which ore is processed using existing infrastructure at Peñasquito, or a 60% interest in a standalone sulfide project.

In both cases, the project would be operated by Goldcorp.

In the event that Goldcorp chooses to exercise one of these options, Orla has the option to require Goldcorp to finance its share of development.

The sulfide mineral resource comprises 223Mt, containing 7.50Moz gold and 64.7Moz silver at grades of 1.05g/t and 9.02g/t, respectively.


Orla is also planning to explore other known gold and silver targets at Camino Rojo. The land package remains underexplored, the company said.

As well as its exploration upside, the project also benefits from having agreements with the local landowners' cooperative, or ejido, and positive community relationships, according to Orla.


Orla has added a promising project to its portfolio in its Camino Rojo acquisition, with the 2009 PEA hinting at the potential for a highly profitable development.

Looking further ahead, a sulfide project in partnership with Goldcorp adds another layer to Camino Rojo's potential value.

Camino Rojo offers Orla a relatively clear path to production and to becoming a diversified gold miner as it advances its Cerro Quema asset in Panama.