Featured Image: Rammelsberg UNESCO heritgate site and mining museum in Saxony in Germany.
Excellon Resources (TSX:EXN) is a junior mining and exploration company with projects in Mexico, the USA, and Germany. Their portfolio includes precious and base metals, and they own and operate Mexico’s highest-grade silver mine, Platosa. Today however, we are talking about their Silver City Project.
Silver City is a 164km2 exploration project in Saxony, Germany, which is prospective for epithermal silver mineralisation (Figure 1). This week I spoke to Ben Pullinger (Senior VP Exploration and Business Development) to learn more about the geology of the project and what we can expect to see in the coming months.
Excellon have an option to acquire a 100% interest in Silver City from Globex Mining Enterprises (TSX:GMX, OTCGX: GLBXF, FRA:G1MN) on the terms they provide C$500,000 in cash and C$1.6m in shares over a 3-year period, with additional resource and production bonuses. The agreement was renewed into its second year in September 2020.
Silver City is located in a historically wealthy mining district known as Freiberg, home to the world’s oldest mining university. The Silver City licenses and surrounding areas saw historic extraction of silver in a multitude of shallow small-scale mines and prospects. In fact, the mountains of Saxony are cited as the origin of the European Silver Rush. Silver mining stopped in the late 19th century after Germany moved away from the silver standard, crushing silver prices and the gold:silver ratio. Base metal mining activity around Freiberg stopped in 1969 as a result of economic and political constraints as well as the difficulties of deepening extraction. The project therefore presents an exciting opportunity for Excellon to realise the true mineral potential of the wealthy historic mining region using modern techniques and technology.
Before we get into how they will go about doing just that, let’s talk Geology for a moment.
Generally speaking, there are 3 main lithologies in the area: a mafic volcanic unit, mica schist, and a massive gneiss. Mineralisation historically was primarily exploited at the contact between the mica schist and the gneiss where the pronounced competency contrast was mineralised during structural development, and then by silver-bearing hydrothermal fluids. Work this year has also suggested that the mafic volcanic and mica schist contact may be more significant than previously thought, as veins and sulphide species have been observed in drilling.
Epithermal mineralisation is typically hosted in steeply plunging quartz-carbonate, sulphide veins, with multiphase mineralisation within a broader arsenic-antimony geochemical signature.. Silver is present in a variety of silver species, often occurring with base metals sulphides such as sphalerite and galena , and additionally the occurrence native silver has been cited in historic reports and exhibits of this are on display in University galleries.. So, to all intents and purposes they are looking at an extensive, classic epithermal environment.
The over-arching question for this year’s exploration at Silver City was that of size and effectiveness. Given the large area of interest, a 36km strike of which 12km is currently the ‘core’ area of interest, it was for Excellon to plan carefully and make the most of their exploration across that large area. Beginning in July this year, the Company permitted a 15-hole diamond drill program which is testing ~15km of the property’s strike, including the 12km of interest.
Assay results are mostly still pending. However, proof of geological concept was obtained from nearly every drill hole and observations of significant amounts of alteration point to a robust mineralised system. Being able to establish the presence of an intact system is of course absolutely key in mineral exploration on this scale. Uncovering and understanding that system is critical to exploring the rest of the district thoughtfully and efficiently and defining the all-important upside potential. With 164km2 to explore, intersecting target geology in almost all of the initial tested targets is only scratching the surface of Silver City.
Now like me you may be wondering some about the German mining industry. Mining in Germany is largely privately financed and as such does not come to the attention of capital market spectators. However, since 2011 Germany and the EU have been increasingly involved in the revival of the European Mining Sector in the interests of mineral supply security, transparency, and responsibility. As such it is a friendly jurisdiction and in fact two new mines have been permitted in Saxony in the past 8 years. Germany are also a technologically advanced country which has great benefits for mining. Excellon are taking advantage of this through their R&D Agreement with the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF). HIF will be testing out cutting-edge exploration technology using Excellon’s core which will not only add value to their project, but as inter-disciplinary approaches often do, provide a more sustainable social foundation for Excellon to operate from.
Awaiting assay results is proving to be a patience game as the COVID-19 pandemic has created backlogs at labs, but Excellon are hoping for results by the end of the year. Their results will then be used to refine targets and inform next year’s exploration work. There is of course a lot more work to be done, both at their current targets and beyond, but Ben believes work this year to date has already justified their return to Saxony next year to carry on untapping the potential of Silver City.
All information in the above article is sourced from the Excellon Resources website as well as personal communications with Ben Pullinger (Senior VP Exploration and Business Development, Excellon).
Spotlight partner page for Excellon here.
Excellon’s Platosa Mine:
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Click to read about their storming production resurgence after COVID-19 slowdowns in Coring Magazine.