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Chinchillas Silver-Lead-Zinc Project, Jujuy Province, Argentina


The Chinchillas silver-lead-zinc project is located within the Bolivian silver-zinc-tin belt, which stretches into northern Argentina. It is one of biggest silver discoveries in 2014 and is estimated to contain indicated resources of 104 million silver-equivalent ounces.

Golden Arrow holds and operates the silver-lead-zinc project through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Valle del Cura (VdC). Golden Arrow completely acquired the Chinchillas project from the vendors on 22 July 2015.
The ore extracted from the open-pit mine is expected to be processed at a rate of 2.9 million tonne a year (8,000t a day) during its mine life of 12 years.

Chinchillas project location, geology, and mineralisation
The Chinchillas project is located within the Puna region, in Jujuy province, department of Rinconada, Argentina. The deposit is a part of the Puna geological belt.

Lead and zinc at the deposit occur as disseminated sulphides and matrix infilling within volcanic tuffs, and as matrix and fracture filling in breccias within the basement meta-sediments. The majority of the mineralisation occurs in thick layers within the volcanic tuffs and breccias. A second style of silver-lead-zinc mineralisation is also found.

The deposit is further categorised into two main zones, the Silver Mantos Zone in the western portion of the basin, and the Socavon Del Diablo Zone in the east. Most of the mineralisation in both the zones is contained within the basin and in the basement host rocks.

Mineralisation at the Silver Mantos basin is spread over multiple flat lying layers or mantos, made up of strongly clay-altered volcanic tuffs and breccias. Mineralisation in the Socavon del Diablo zone is dominated by manto-style disseminated sulphides located within the shallow-dipping volcanic tuff horizons.

Chinchillas mine reserves
As of 31 July 2015, the indicated resources at Chinchillas project were estimated to be 25.9 million tonnes (Mt) graded at 77.2g / t silver (Ag), 0.66% lead (Pb), and 0.66% zinc (Zn). Contained reserves of the mine are estimated to be 64 million ounces (Moz) of silver, 379 million pounds (Mlbs) of lead, and 379Mlbs of zinc.

Mining and processing of ore from Chinchillas silver deposit

Conventional open-pit mining method, using drilling and blasting followed by loading and hauling, is proposed at the Chinchillas mine.

The run-of-mine (ROM) ore will be delivered to the processing plant and stored in separate stockpiles before blending. The feed will be reclaimed and fed to a large jaw crusher where it will be crushed to 150mm and stockpiled.

Feed from the stockpile will be reclaimed by a series of belt feeders and transferred through a conveyor to the primary semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill, which will operate in conjunction with a ball mill.

The grinding circuit will be closed with cyclones, while the cyclone overflow will undergo flotation. Sodium meta-bisulphite will be used as the primary zinc depressant, and xanthate and a secondary collector will be used to recover lead and silver. Rougher and scavenger concentrates will be cleaned after regrinding in a tower mill, and the resultant concentrate will be fed to a thickener.

Flotation tailings from the lead circuit will be fed to the zinc circuit. The sphalerite (zinc-sulphide) will be activated with copper sulphate prior to flotation with xanthate. The rougher/scavenger concentrate will be cleaned after regrinding and then sent to a thickener.

The thickened lead concentrates will be filtered in pressure filters and bagged for delivery to customers.

Financing for Chinchillas project
The project received $1.5m in financing from Silver Standard, the operator of the neighbouring Pirquitas silver mine. It also obtained a $3m finance facility from an undisclosed investor based in Argentina.

Infrastructure facilities at the mine site
Access to the mine site is through the existing roads from Santo Domingo or the Pirquitas Mine. Most of the power required for the operations will be procured from Santo Domingo. A new high-voltage (69kV) transmission line is proposed to be constructed from Abra Pampa to the project site, over a distance of 66km.

Contractors involved
Golden Arrow contracted Energold Argentina in November 2012 to conduct diamond drilling at the Chinchillas silver project.

The Bajo de la Alumbrera (Alumbrera) copper-gold mine in Argentina is owned and operated by Minera Alumbrera (MAA).
"The run-of-mine (ROM) ore will be delivered to the processing plant and stored in separate stockpiles before blending."
"Access to the mine site is through the existing roads from Santo Domingo or the Pirquitas Mine."

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