Canuc Resources still bears the name it was christened with in 1954 when it focused exclusively on uranium mining prospects in Canada (Canuc = Canadian nuclear).
The company has experienced several evolutions over the ensuing decades, most recently switching its focus from a gold project in Ecuador to silver-gold tenements in Mexico, which is the world’s largest producer of what Canuc describes as the ‘indispensable metal’ – silver – owing to its applications across myriad modern devices.
“Electrical conductivity makes silver an indispensable metal in the electrification of the global economy,” explains Canuc president and CEO Chris Berlet. “It’s used in solar panels, circuit panels, cell phones and more, and is more conductive even then copper.
On a scale of 0-100, the electrical conductivity of copper would be 96: whereas silver is 100.
Charged ions on the surface of silver metal also give it anti-microbial properties,” he says. Berlet joined the board of Canuc in 2008 and was a key driving force behind the company’s interest in the San Javier Silver-Gold Project, which is located in a historic mining district in Sonora State, Mexico.
In addition to San Javier, Canuc operates a group of natural gas wells in the US State of Texas, which provide stable cash flow for the company’s corporate overheads.
Berlet and co were first drawn to the San Javier project in 2009 after they visited an old silver mine and found extensive high to bonanza-grade silver in the veins of underground workings, along with concurrent gold mineralization.
He recalls that the average recorded grade from the artisanal mine workings was 388 g/t silver with a 2 g/t gold credit, while average head grades for today’s producing silver mines is somewhere around 160 g/t silver.
“We’d seen reports previously written to the boards of Hecla Mining and Endeavour Silver, written around the 2003 timeframe, recommending purchase of the mine and accumulation of claims along trend,” says Berlet “While the project was deemed too small by those companies, it presented an opportunity for us – as a private company at the time to accumulate claims along the 3 km trend. By 2017, we had 17 contiguous claims and were able to vend them Into Canuc Resources by way of an RTO.”
The home of Mexican mining
The presence of major mining houses such as Hecla and Endeavour in Sonora State is now very much the norm in what is one of the busiest mining jurisdictions in Latin America.
Sonora is home to one of Mexico’s largest gold mines; Fresnillo’s now 100% owned La Herradura. The State also hosts the most value-accretive recent silver discovery on the TSX, after the Las Chispas deposit sent SilverCrest’s stock from 25 cents to C$15.
“Mines get permitted in Sonora, there’s an experienced labor pool and geology is conducive to metal inventory discovery and mineral wealth creation. Overall, it’s a fantastic place to create shareholder value through mineral discoveries,” Berlet proclaims.
Canuc has spent the last four years exploring its principal claims across the San Javier project with the intention of making a significant new silver discovery that could also contain a meaningful gold-copper endowment.
During this period of exploration, the company has gradually built a hypothesis around the potential for an IOCG (iron oxide copper gold) deposit to exist at San Javier. The company’s latest findings provide the most solid evidence yet in support of this theory.
IOCG deposits are known for being very large and extremely valuable, high-grade metal resources hosted in iron oxide assemblages. IOCGs were only properly classified in the 1990s, largely thanks to the work of Dr Murray W. Hitzman, who would later go on to become the head of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.
IOCG potential in the San Javier area was first postulated in a site visit report written by Dr Hitzman in 2006. In particular, the report references all the hallmarks of IOCG deposit types in this area and prerequisites the presence of magnetite as indicating the lower levels of an IOCG system.