Solaris Resources (TSX:SLS) (OTCQB:SLSSF) has launched an extensive 2024 drilling and exploration program at its Warintza copper-gold project in southeastern Ecuador, aiming to substantially increase the current mineral resource estimate, make additional new discoveries, and advance infrastructure and engineering studies to further derisk what it hopes will become Ecuador’s next major mining operation.
With six drill rigs slated to be spinning by month’s end, Solaris is wasting no time following up on the successes of last year’s drilling efforts which outlined wide zones of high-grade mineralization over a 5km strike. The priority targets are the open-ended higher grade core at Warintza Central, extending the strike length and depth at the Warintza East discovery, and delineating an initial resource at the Warintza Southeast discovery made last fall.
An updated mineral resource estimate incorporating almost twice the results of the previous estimate is expected by late Q2. The additional data, especially from East and Southeast, could substantially increase the overall resource scale and grade. Warintza’s position among the ranks of major global copper projects may soon be cemented if this is the case.
But Solaris isn’t resting on this plan, with plans to keep drilling through the updated resource estimate and an aim of completing at least 30,000 additional meters focusing on further growth opportunities by yearend 2024. This includes tightening the drill pattern in some areas with room for optimization, as well as collecting data for preliminary metallurgical, geotechnical and hydrological studies to support future scoping and feasibility studies.
Systematic Regional Exploration Underway to Make Next Big Discovery
On a parallel track beyond the main Warintza deposits, field crews have mobilized to several earlier-stage regional targets with hopes of making Solaris’ next big porphyry discovery elsewhere on its large concession package outside of Warintza Central. Initial soil sampling and mapping programs over the past two years have revealed a number of intriguing copper-molybdenum anomalies that could indicate the presence of additional blind porphyries underlying the sandstone cover prevalent in the basin.
The immediate focus is on the Mateo prospect, where recent sampling outlined a sizable 3km x 1.4km copper-in-soils anomaly coincident with sandstone outcrops. Further infill soil sampling and possibly some initial geophysical surveys are planned over the coming months to refine the targets for an eventual maiden drill campaign later this year or early 2025. Several other early-stage regional targets are also on the agenda for Solaris’ exploration team.
Well-Funded for Full Campaign
With a recent $130 million strategic investment from China’s Zijin Mining Group now in hand, Solaris is well-funded to potentially ramp up and accelerate its plans over the next two years. In fact, beyond the six rigs currently operating, the company has targets to get as many as ten rigs spinning by the end of 2024 to systematically test the full breadth of what it has now in its crosshairs – a district-scale opportunity centered around Warintza but extending across its vast concession holdings in Ecuador.
Zijin identified world-class potential after taking a 15% stake in Solaris Resources, and, in addition to providing critical capital, Zijin also brings substantial technical expertise and experience to the table as one of China’s preeminent mining firms operating globally.
With renewed financial backing and drills now turning, Solaris Resources is intent on methodically unlocking the full promise of its Ecuadorian property package in 2024. The company’s near-term resource growth drilling, regional exploration campaigns, infrastructure studies, and new high-profile partnership with Zijin Mining set the stage for what could prove a potentially company-making year. Investors can likely expect a steady stream of news flow over the coming year, and further updates to this copper growth story.