Santa Cecilia Project


In late 1980 an exploration joint venture was formed between Anglo American, Cominco, and Bernstein & Thomson Exploration (BTX). The objective was to use the experience gained in the successful exploration of the El Indio-Pascua gold projects to explore the high Chilean Andes for similar deposits from the frontier with Peru in the north, to the latitude of Chillan in the south; a distance of over 2,000 kilometers. BTX, with a two year contract, carried out the exploration first with fixed wing observation from the air to locate color anomalies followed by helicopter based geological and geochemical exploration. What subsequently became the Maricunga Gold Province, and the San Felipe group of porphyry gold deposits, including later Pimenton and West Wall, had been located by April 1981.


Anglo American in particular was impressed by the fist season results and decided to take over the Maricunga exploration and modify the agreement with BTX to explore the entire length of the Argentinean Andes from Bolivia in the north to Cape Horn in the south, a distance of 3,700 kilometers. This was done by April 1982 locating a number of areas worthy of further examination. Near the end of the exploration season, the Falklands war between Argentina and Great Britain interfered with the exploration program and all geological personnel and the helicopter had to leave Argentina.


In 1982 Mario Hernandez established contact with a Chilean prospector who held two exploration concessions in the southern part of the Maricunga province. In 1983 Anglo American had a helicopter operating in the district and agreed to let Mario Hernandez and David Thomson have use of the helicopter at their cost, in exchange for a right of first refusal on both properties. David Thomson and Mario Hernandez made an examination of both properties in one day by helicopter and decided to reach an option agreement with the prospector. Once agreement had been reached, a syndicate to fund exploration was formed with Mario Hernandez, Gerardo Findel (both original owners of the El Indio and Pascua Projects) David Thomson, Merwin Bernstein and a lawyer, Jaime Alvarez.


Between 1984 and 1986 Mario Hernandez, David Thomson and Merwin Bernstein carried out surface geological mapping and sampling on what later became known as the Refugio and Santa Cecilia Projects. In 1987 a three year option was signed with Anglo American on both projects. Over the next three summer seasons Anglo carried out geological and geochemical studies and drilling on both properties. At Santa Cecilia over US$1,000,000 was spent. At the end of the three year option Anglo decided to drop their option, a decision presumably influenced by Anglo’s US$100,000,000 operational loss on the Marte project at the northern end of the Maricunga province.


In 1990 an option agreement on Refugio was reached with Bema Gold culminating in 1994 with a producing mine. During the final negotiations in 1994 when the owner’s syndicate sold their 50% stake in Refugio to Amax Gold, a great deal of advice and help was received from Stephen Houghton and his connections.


In 1994 conversations were held with South American Gold and Copper Co. Ltd. on testing the gold bearing veins at Santa Cecilia and later the large low grade potential. This came to nothing as SAGC could not raise the funding following the Bre-X fiasco and low gold prices.


The owners of the Santa Cecilia claims have never doubted that the property has merit and have paid the yearly claim costs for a total of twenty eight years. In 2009 a

US$30,000,000 plus a 3% NSR, option agreement was discussed at length with Exeter Resources and almost finalized, but was finally rejected by Santa Cecilia as Exeter insisted on too many conditional clauses over too long a time frame.


In 2010 when Exeter’s drilling brought the Caspiche ore body into perspective, the Santa Cecilia owners decided to run a Mobile Metal Ion geochemical survey and CSAMT geophysical lines over a large part of the property. In 2011 the MMI sampling was intensified. The results of this work are encouraging vindicating the faith of the owners in their project.