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Monday, 3 December 2012
Celeste Mining, formerly Celeste Copper, has a tin grin
With a renewed focus on the now fully permitted South Crofty tin mine and a recently updated NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate, Celeste Mining (CVE:C) is enthusiastic about its future as the demand for tin continues to grow.
Emphasizing the company’s broadened outlook and current focus on developing South Crofty, Celeste recently changed its name from Celeste Copper Corp. to Celeste Mining Corp.
Initially formed in 2007, the company began its journey with the intent to explore a group of land claims in Chile that were thought to be prospective for copper, gold, and silver.
After initial drill results proved to be interesting, but not significant, the company decided to seek other exploration projects that were “more exciting”.
Cue South Crofty. CEO Alan Shoesmith explains that his predecessor had, several years earlier, looked at the South Crofty tin project in Cornwall, UK – where Shoesmith and others had been hard at work attempting to push the project toward development.
Indeed, Shoesmith has been with the South Crofty project since 2000/2001 in leading roles with the companies that had acquired the mine after its closure as Europe’s last working tin mine in 1998, and had been looking at restoring the historic mine’s operations.
He adds that the historic Cornish mining region has been recognized as a highly mineralized area.
“In fact, South Crofty sits in one of the most intensely mineralized areas of the world.”
But the mining industry on which the region once thrived was left to decay due to a lack of investment and low tin and copper prices. Accordingly, the area was focused on being a tourist destination, he explains.
The South Crofty Mine is an amalgamation of twelve mines located between Redruth and Camborne in Cornwall, England and the mine’s assets comprise of roughly 150 square kilometres of mineral rights throughout the district.
South Crofty is an underground mine that was allowed to flood following its 1998 closure, making it difficult to access.
Historically, South Crofty was mined using water pumping stations to access the more than 40 lodes, and the primary mining method was “longhole” stoping - similar to an underground version of quarrying.
Workings to date include a crosscut driven north, which has intersected two existing shafts for access and ventilation, as well as an exploration drive/decline driven west southwest to the parallel Dolcoath main lode – now part of the South Crofty mine complex.
Since acquisition by previous operators in 2001, Shoesmith says that work was mainly confined to safeguarding and preserving the asset – however, from 2008, the underground development of a decline ramp, crosscuts and drill bays enabled the start of an exploration drilling program. Although exploration drilling will continue, the former mine workings need to be de-watered before further underground development progress can be made.
In May of 2011, Celeste entered into an earn-in agreement to acquire up to a 100-per-cent-interest in Cornish Minerals Limited, which by then controlled mining rights in the region - including the South Crofty Mine.
This past June, the company sought Shoesmith to become its CEO, thinking it could draw on his years of experience working on the project.
By July, Celeste announced the completion of the acquisition of an initial 25 per cent equity interest in Cornish Minerals.
The company stated then that it was intent on boosting its stake to either 50 or 60 per cent in Cornish Minerals, if it completes its funding commitments by September 30, 2013.
Alongside that significant milestone, Shoesmith says that advances in the company’s exploration program, including development of the decline, have now led to the completion of over 26,000 metres of drilling.
In August, Celeste said holes DD1205 to DD1208 returned “very encouraging results”, including 3.73 metres grading 0.47 per cent tin equivalent (SnEq), three metres grading 1.08 per cent SnEq, 4.59 metres grading 0.51 per cent SnEq and 3.79 metres grading 0.41 per cent SnEq.
Perhaps the most meaningful of the company’s recent achievements was the completion of an NI 43-101 estimate for the Dolcoath section of the South Crofty tin project in September.
Highlights from the updated NI 43-101 estimate, using a 0.2 per cent tin equivalent cut off grade, included an inferred resource of 2.47 million tonnes grading 0.46 per cent tin, 0.54 per cent copper and 0.23 per cent zinc, for 0.68 per cent tin equivalent.
Significantly, the estimate also noted an exploration target of between 6.7 and 13.5 million tonnes with grades ranging between 1.4 and 1.8 per cent tin, in an area east of a natural fault known as the Great Crosscourse within the South Crofty mine.
Furthermore, the report defined an exploration target of between 1.25 and 2.5 million tonnes with grades ranging between 1.25 and 1.6 per cent tin, west of the Great Crosscourse, in the Dolcoath deep and Roskear areas of the South Crofty project.
In late September, Celeste also announced plans to divest its remaining Chilean claims to focus on the development of South Crofty.
“Celeste’s management has been increasingly excited by the potential of South Crofty since becoming managers of the project last November,” Shoesmith asserts.
“Indeed, given my long term with the project, my appointment to Celeste underlines the company’s decision to make South Crofty our absolute focus for the foreseeable future.”
The Celeste IV to X claims in Chile are located 70 kilometres southeast of Copiapo, Chile. They cover mining concessions totaling an area of 24 square kilometres.
“Our objective is not necessarily a straight out sale,” says Shoesmith. “A joint venture arrangement on these properties would be of interest.”
Looking ahead, Shoesmith says the company will continue its exploration efforts at South Crofty, focusing on enhancing the resources through drilling programs, together with underground water treatment trials that will be starting in the next month.
He explains that the company must look at the water quality in order to be able to pump it out of the mines and into the river.
“Beyond that, we are aiming for the commencement of the physical discharge of the water in the latter part of the first quarter of 2013,” says Shoesmith.
“These are the major steps for us on the road to making a production decision.”
When it comes to the company’s take on the tin industry and reports on the anticipated rise in tin prices, as well as shortages of the metal in the future, Celeste says it is intending to supply tin to address some of that shortage.
“This was very much in Celeste’s mind from the beginning and why it remains very excited about the project,” says Shoesmith.
“And our recent results have been endorsing that excitement.”