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New Pacific Metals poised at new silver exploration frontier in Bolivia


The company picked up its flagship Silver Sand project in Bolivia when it bought Alcira for US$40 million two years ago

The firm's geology in Bolivia

Quick facts: New Pacific Metals

Price: 6.92 CAD

Market: TSX-V
Market Cap: $1.02 billion
  • Bolivia was South America's fastest-growing economy last year and is underexplored, with estimates suggesting only 10% of its mineral resources have been extracted

  • A 55,000-meter drill program at Silver Sand project has started with three rigs on site

  • Targeting an initial mineral resource for the project for the end of 2019

  • Funds of $24.5 million available as at end of last year

What New Pacific Metals owns

The Vancouver-based explorer picked up the flagship Silver Sand project in Bolivia when it bought Alcira for US$40 million two years ago. It is one of the group's seven polymetallic properties in the country. Nearby infrastructure to Silver Sand is relatively good, located 54 km from the city of Potosi, of which 27 km is paved and the rest gravel. There is water available for any future operations.

Silver Sand consists of three 100% owned concessions of around 7 square kilometers (sq km) plus an area of around 57 sq km and has been subjected to some small-scale, historic mining and was drilled during the period 2012 through 2015 by a previous company.

The other six properties in Bolivia are early-stage exploration projects, which have either been subject to limited small-scale mining or historical drilling. At the end of 2018, New Pacific had $24.52 million worth of funds remaining with the drilling plan for the whole of 2019 set to cost $11 million.

The company also owns the Tagish Lake gold project in Yukon (1,512 claims) and the RZY early stage silver-lead-zinc project in Qinghai province, China.

What's ahead?

At Silver Sand, the company aims to infill drill this year to the point where an initial mineral resource can be calculated. It has acquired 16km from the project area to build an exploration camp and drill core processing and storage facilities. In February this year, it reported near surface drill results, with silver hit in 190 holes out of 195, including 99.91m (meters) grading 244 g/t (grams per ton) silver.

This year's work will also target prospects showing good silver grades from historical artisanal mining to expand mineralisation, while also drilling nearby prospects showing similar silver mineralisation. The firm will also generate samples for further metallurgical test work.  Grab samples of hundreds of surface dump sites and chip-samples from artisanal tunnels show the silver mineralised fracture zones could extend up to an area 6km long and 2km wide.

The company also now has environmental permits to explore in areas surrounding the Silver Sand area that fall within the mining production contract (MPC) that it signed with COMIBOL in January. The MPC is still subject to ratification by the plurinational legislative assembly of Bolivia.

Strong shareholder base

The firm's largest shareholder is Silvercorp Metals Inc (NYSEAMERICAN: SVM), which is the largest primary silver producer in China, with 27.5% of shares. Its chairman and CEO Dr Rui Feng is the CEO at  New Pacific Metals, who, it turn owns 7.6% of the company.

Silver mining giant Pan American Silver Corp (NASDAQ:PAAS) also owns 16.2% of the shares.

Looking at other opportunities in Bolivia

It is actively seeking other opportunities in the country and should be aided by the MPC (mining production contract) it has signed with state-owned mining group COMIBOL, giving it exploration and mining rights over an area covering around 57 sq km surrounding the Silver Sand project.

The contract is valid for 45 years and is subject to a 4% gross sales value payable to COMIBOL on all minerals produced from these areas.

New Pacific says it has a strong partnership with the state-owned group.

READ: New Pacific Metals well funded to develop flagship Silver Sand project in 2018

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