Business

How much gold is in those hills?

Prospecting for precious metal and copper to take another 5 years

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014    

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CANADIAN firm, Carube Resources, has already drilled through well over a kilometre of rock in its search for copper and gold in Jamaica.

Over the last three years, the company pumped CAD$3 million into prospecting the Bellas Gate in St Catherine.

Yet, Carube is still at least five years away from establishing commercial mines.

Nevertheless, the prospects for the firm, and Jamaica, seem promising.

Samples from sections of the area where the search for the valuable metals is taking place show the potential for four kilogrammes (kg) of copper and 0.24 grammes of gold per tonne of rock.

Gold sells for US$30 a gram, while copper fetches around US$6.60 a kg. So the Connors section of the Bellas Gate area could conceivably yield over US$33 for every tonne of rock mined.

Government stands to collect five per cent of that. And the mining company would have to pay taxes.

Carube's CEO Vern Rampton reckons a mine could also provide local employment for at least 15 years.

But first a pre-feasibility study will have to be done. The company hopes to complete one by 2017. Then a comprehensive feasibility study would take another two years. After that, a permit to construct and operate a mine will have to be acquired.

"Once the pre-feasibility study comes back positive, then we go to a full feasibility where things are looked at under a microscope to ensure that everything is in place and if that full feasibility comes back positive, then the decision to mine construction and production occurs," said Rampton.

The prospector, who started operations in Jamaica in 2011, partnered with Australia-based Oz Minerals earlier this year to take the project forward.

"If the right amount of minerals are there, Oz Minerals will apply for a permit to start construction of a mine and a mill and will earn the majority of the profits," he said.

Oz, through the joint venture agreement, can earn 70 per cent interest in Bellas Gate project by spending US$6.5 million and paying US$457,000 to Carube Resources over three and a half years. The Australian company can increase its interest by 10 percentage points by completing the feasibility study.

The Bellas Gate project which sprawls across 85 square kilometres, includes Ginger Ridge, Connors, Bull Snap, Kola, Geo Hill, Mab Hill, Camel Hill, Stamford Hill and Charing Cross.

To date, five holes totalling 1,652.9 metres have been drilled, including three completed holes at Connors and two at the Ginger Ridge prospect, which is a kilometre north of Connors.

Carube controls the Bellas Gate and Browns Hall Special Exclusive Prospecting Licences (SEPLs) through its 100 per cent-owned Jamaican subsidiary Carube Resources Jamaica Limited (CRJL).

Through the acquisition of Rodinia Jamaica Limited in 2012, Carube also owns a 100 per cent interest in four other SEPLs in Jamaica, namely licences for 30 square kilometres at Main Ridge; 52 square kilometres at Belvedere; 52 square kilometres at Mount Royal; and 42 square kilometres at Hungry Gully.

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