Antilles Gold has expanded its Caribbean ambitions with a strategy to establish at least three medium-sized mines in Cuba by the end of 2026.
The ambitious emerging developer’s board has outlined a plan to achieve a medium-term goal of becoming a substantial mining group in partnership with the Cuban dictatorship.
The plan, with a detailed timeline for scheduled targets, includes not only gold mining but also copper and zinc concentrates, metals that are vital for batteries for the burgeoning “green” energy sector.
Antilles Chief Executive Brian Johnson and new exploration director Chris Grainger have been sharing the company’s ambitions in Britain and Canada during a two-week tour that ended last Sunday.
“We received a very positive reaction; in fact, we were surprised that there was no backlash,” Johnson said.
He says investors seemed reassured by the practicalities of working in communist Cuba after the details and processes of the country’s foreign investment laws and other rules were explained to them.
Antilles, formerly PanTerra Gold Ltd, has previously mentioned some of the advantages it has enjoyed in Cuba such as low entry costs to previously explored mineral deposits and noted that the Cuban regime has granted it a “generous tax regime”, which includes the 15 percent tax exemption for eight years.
Johnson first visited Cuba in 2015 with a Canadian geologist who was excited about the country’s mining potential.
Three years later, Antilles was offered a lease for the La Demajagua open-pit gold and silver mine in southwestern Cuba.
“I joined because I could see the great opportunities,” said Antilles Chief Executive Brian Johnson.
After two years of negotiations with the Cuban dictatorship, Antilles established a joint venture (49-51) in 2020 with GeoMinera SA, the mining arm of the Cuban regime. The joint venture is called Minera La Victoria SA.
La Demajagua, on Isla de la Juventud in the southwest of the country, is the closest to development and updated JORC resources have been marked for next month.
La Demajagua already has JORC resources of 720,000 ounces of gold at 2.9 grams per tonne and 9.57 million ounces of silver. Assay tests have returned some impressive figures, including 10 million at 12.15 grams per tonne gold, 8 million at 14.3 g/t gold and 278.9 g/t silver.
A Definitive Feasibility Study, or “DFS”, is scheduled for November this year and mine construction is scheduled to begin in July next year, with mine commissioning expected in June 2024.
The plan is to mine around 100,000 ounces of gold concentrate a year for six to seven years and sell it to foreign smelters or an international trading company.
An underground pit would follow, starting in 2030, with a mine life of more than 10 years at roughly 60,000 ounces of gold equivalent per year.
Antilles is now investigating other opportunities in Cuba and two have made it to the top of its wish list: the El Pilar copper-gold porphyry system and overlying gold-copper oxide deposit and the New Horizons project with a belt. 40 km long polymetallic. Both are in the center of Cuba.
Antilles plans to use some profits from La Demajagua to help finance exploration at El Pilar, which he describes as “a maker of companies.”
A 14,000m drill program for El Pilar is already scheduled to start next month and will be followed by a scoping study. The Antilles program contemplates the construction of a gold and copper oxide mine starting in March 2024.
The latest addition to the Antilles development portfolio is New Horizons, which offers a 40 km long belt of historic massive volcanic sulfide or “VMS” mineralization.
Antilles is confident that a project will come to fruition through both the copper and zinc grades. Four previous mines were operated by Russian companies and a further 16 mineral exposures have been identified that are rich in gold and silver.
An aerial geophysical survey is scheduled for January next year, to be followed by a 15,000m drilling program in March.
In addition, Antilles is reviewing a portfolio of projects for early exploration opportunities. The plan is then to transfer to Minera La Victoria for additional exploration, further studies and possible development.
Antilles now has an office in Havana and says she is “very comfortable” operating in Cuba with its foreign investment law, realistic mining and environmental regulations, and GeoMinera’s ability to calm the waters.
“We’re finding it a great place to operate,” Johnson said. “Getting this joint venture (Minera La Victoria) has helped in fast-tracking permits and developing the project.”
Johnson says he is highly confident the joint venture’s objectives will be realised and lead to increasing dividend flow and growth in the value of the company’s investment in Cuba.
As for financing these ambitions, Johnson accepts external funds may be required.
He points out he has previously talked about his preference to raise money from professional investors through convertible notes and similar means, rather than by issuing shares, to minimise dilution of share value.