When you talk about New Pacific Metals (TSX:NUAG; NYSE-A:NEWP) and its focus on silver and gold exploration in Bolivia, you might as well address the elephant in the room.
And that is Bolivia itself. It has a reputation of social and political tensions.
But Professor Bernd Lehmann encourages investors to look past the headlines in order to see a great story.
“We say in exploration, ‘If you want to hunt for elephants, you have to go to elephant country,” Lehmann says. “Bolivia is elephant country for silver and gold.”
Dr. Lehmann is an internationally recognized exploration geologist who regularly takes his university students from Germany to the Bolivian Andes, where a wide variety of rocks and ore can be studied with little vegetation in the way.
“Ore deposits are not evenly distributed on Earth,” he explains. “Ore deposits of silver and gold are known in the Andes, especially the Andean part of Bolivia. That is why the exploration focus on Bolivia makes so much sense.”
Based in Vancouver, Canada, New Pacific Metals stands out as a leading company engaged in mineral exploration and development in Bolivia. The company is actively progressing three distinct properties: Silver Sand, Carangas, and Silverstrike. Among these, Silver Sand is the most advanced. In January 2023, a preliminary economic assessment unveiled Silver Sand’s impressive attributes, outlining a 14-year mine life producing 171 million ounces of high-grade silver. However, after a recent discovery and significant drilling campaign, the Carangas project now closely trails Silver Sand with its rapid advancement.
Carangas is situated in the Andean silver/gold belt, so the geographic potential for both silver and gold is there. In 2021, after a handful of holes at its Carangas project returned significant gold values at depth, New Pacific doubled down with five drill rigs operating at site, drilling over 80,000 metres and 189 holes with spectacular results. Every single hole intercepted a near-surface silver horizon of 1,000 metres long by 800 metres wide and up to 200 metres thick. The drill holes in the central valley at Carangas continuously hit a thick gold zone beneath the silver horizon.
With Bolivia’s geological history of volcanism and subduction of the Pacific plate, it is well-suited for epithermal (near-surface) deposits such as those being found in Carangas.
Dr. Lehmann has life-long colleagues involved with New Pacific, so he was thrilled to be invited to see the work the company had undertaken. Early results at Carangas were exciting, and this trip to the Andean region of Oruro provided a chance for him to see the discovery process in action.
“I was impressed with how efficient the exploration team, led by New Pacific’s VP Exploration Alex Zhang, has been able to get the project to an advanced state within only two years. It was a pleasure to see how dedicated and enthusiastic the on-site exploration team was.”
Zhang acknowledges the impressive pace at which the project is moving.
“Very fast,” says Zhang. “That is because those of us here on the ground are not promoters; we are workers. And everyone is working very hard.”
The crew on the ground is 100% Bolivian, showing the people’s eagerness to welcome the Canadian company. After all, the mining industry is no stranger here. Go back to the 1500s and there are stories of silver mines that financed the Spanish Empire, most notably the mighty Cerro Rico mine, located in Potosi just 35kms southwest of New Pacific’s flagship Silver Sand project. The Andean region of Oruro where Carangas is found was home to the La Salvadora tin mine, which, for a time, was the most important source of tin in the world.
As the mine’s resources dwindled, the focus of the region turned to other industries such as trade and exporting the country’s goods. As a result, Bolivia is under-explored in the modern era of mining. In the last several decades, no major mining has been done in Oruro.
That may change soon.
Dr. Lehmann believes Carangas will once again shine a light on the country’s vast potential.
“Bolivia is a sleeping giant that could be a par with its neighbouring countries (Chile and Peru), given the right exploration push and legal environment,” he says. “It could be that New Pacific Metals comes in just at the right time, when Bolivia is on a turning point toward a new mining era.”
Recent foreign investment lends credence to that idea. Since January, Bolivia has signed three major agreements with foreign companies interested in the country’s huge lithium reserves. It is evidence that the Bolivian government is ready to welcome the world to its mineral-rich land.
Dr. Lehmann is enthusiastic about the New Pacific project’s potential.
“Carangas could be a starting point for a new gold-silver rush, similar to what happened in the Canadian northwest when the first diamonds were found in the 1980s,” he says.
New Pacific is currently completing its inaugural resource estimate for Carangas – expected to be released this fall – then will proceed with a preliminary economic assessment.
To read more information on New Pacific’s projects, please visit: https://www.newpacificmetals.com/welcome