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Financial Press Altan Rio Minerals Limited (AMO)
Written by Nathan Pearson
With the global economy set to limp its way through 2012, gold prices continue to soar toward a record high, while Vancouver-based junior Altan Rio [TSX-V: AMO] forges ahead with a fast-paced drill campaign set against the backdrop of mineral-rich Mongolia.
Founded in 2006 and having become listed just this past January, Altan Rio is a well-financed company housing top mining talent. To date, Altan Rio has invested over US$6 million assembling and exploring highly prospective precious metal and copper projects, which encompass three projects spanning more than 153,310 hectares.
Mongolia— the most sparsely populated country on Earth—is a great place for a Canadian junior like Altan Rio to go exploring. It’s one of the world’s most prospective mineral regions, with most of the country having yet to be introduced to modern exploration methods. The country enjoys a stable government and the International Monetary Fund estimates that Mongolia’s GDP has the potential to grow up to ten percent this year, in part by ever-increasing gold prices. Altan Rio is poised to cash-in on Mongolia’s offerings with its two primary focus properties: Chandman-Yol and Khavchuu.
In an effort to investigate and understand the advantages of mineral exploration in Mongolia at the Chandman-Yol and Khavchuu projects, Financial Press conducted an interview with Altan Rio’s Director of Exploration, Kelly Cluer.
Q) Financial Press: How is Mongolia to operate an exploration company comparative to other foreign jurisdictions?
A) Kelly Cluer: Mongolia is a very safe and friendly country to work in. It’s very important to work with the locals and we have a very experienced Mongolian national team and an office in Ulaanbaatar. We are also pleased that we now have over 15% Mongolian shareholders and have even raised money with brokers in Mongolia.
Of course there are always a few snags along the way, like with any exploration in a developing country, but overall Altan Rio has found working in Mongolia to be a very positive experience. One of the key aspects of Mongolia is the Buddhist culture that is always just beneath the surface – virtually no overt violence, making it a very safe place to live and work. It really is a beautiful country with extremely friendly and welcoming people.
Q) Financial Press: What sets Altan Rio apart from other venture listed gold juniors? (What is the company’s recipe for success)?
A) Kelly Cluer: Our portfolio of projects and experienced management and first-rate Mongolian national team really sets us apart from other juniors.
Our Chandman-Yol project is over 1,400 km2, an entire mountain range, where we have seven key copper-gold targets so far and are finding more each field season. Our drill program in 2011 at the KY porphyry intrusion picked up some decent grades above the target zone and we are keen to test deeper into the intrusion in 2012. Shallower targets, some even outcropping at surface, will also be the focus of the 2012 program.
Chandman-Yol isn’t your typical junior company project. We really have an opportunity to discover a large copper-gold porphyry system with huge tonnage potential.
Khavchuu is another project we are very excited about. It lies only 10 km west from Centerra Gold’s Boroo mine and mill complex. The project is 71 km2 and recent work has shown strong gold and arsenic anomalies in rock and soil samples and IP-resistivity anomalies on par with the Boroo deposit. We just started the first ever drill campaign on the project and are excited to see the results.
Secondly, our management and Mongolian National team sets us apart. Our Chairman, John Jones is a prominent player in the international mining sector with over 40 years of experience. His involvement in four companies has led to the discovery of four deposits and the development of eight mines. John brings a lot of experience to the table.
We also have an experienced Mongolian National staff of six seasoned geologists with over 30 years of combined experience. We have a great team and a very exciting portfolio of projects.
Q) Financial Press: Are there any other success stories in Mongolia that relate to Altan Rio? If so, was management from Altan responsible directly or indirectly?
A) Kelly Cluer: Yes, I was involved in the team discovery of Gatsuurt in 1998, which is located east of the Boroo mine. The deposit is currently a 2 Moz open-pit resource which grades about 2.6 g/t gold. It was an excellent example of international teamwork pulling off a grass-roots discovery in the early days of Mongolia’s first western explorers.
I have been working in Mongolia for over 14 years, and while with Centerra Gold, I assisted with the pre-production drill-out and mine modeling of the Boroo deposit and with their successful IPO in 2004. Altan Rio has quite a bit of experience in Mongolia that quickly led us to the key projects we have today, and augments our ability to operate effectively in the country, having already learned the “what not to dos”.
Q) Financial Press: When can investors expect assay results back from the current 1,800 metres of drilling at the Khavchuu prospect? Is there a timetable of events the market will want to pay close attention too?
A) Kelly Cluer: Drilling is still underway at our Khavchuu project and is expected to wrap up in early May. Initial assay results are anticipated within the next few weeks. We hope to have news out within the next month.
The summer exploration and drilling season at Chandman-Yol will start up in late May. We are likely to begin drilling our near surface targets first and then return to test the deeper targets at the KY porphyry intrusion.
Overall it will be quite a busy field season for Altan Rio on both the Khavchuu and Chandman-Yol projects. Watch for news throughout the summer and into the fall.
Located in the Altai mountain range near Khovd and 1,050 km west of the capital Ulaanbaatar, sits Altan Rio’s 140,174 hectare Chandman-Yol property. The property consists of nine tenements 100% owned by Altan Rio, with five of these subject to a 2.5% NSR (net smelter royalty).
Previous drilling campaigns completed on the property during 2009/2010 yielded three out of seventeen diamond drill holes showing sizable gold-copper mineralization with intersections of 32.13 m at 1.49 g/t gold, 0.60% copper and 8.07 g/t silver, including 10.39 m averaging 2.71 g/t gold, 0.91% copper and 12.11 g/t silver as well as 10.75 m at 1 g/t gold, 0.65% copper and 4.8 g/t silver.
The most recent thirteen-hole drill program on the property revealed strong molybdenum anomalies, an exciting gold grade of 28 g/t over 1 m, and silver intersections of 13.2 m at 43.12 g/t including 1 m at 106.31 g/t and 1 m at 118.86 g/t, as well as 39.6 m at 24.57 g/t including 2.5 m at 128.3 g/t and 2.2 m at 114.26 g/t.
Timeline-wise, 2012 sees Altan Rio drilling even deeper on last year’s KY porphyry target and within four newly discovered shallower zones on the Chandman-Yol property.
Altan Rio’s 7,140 hectare Khavchuu gold project is located in Tov Aimag in northern Mongolia, just 10 km from the Centerra Gold Boroo mill complex and 15 km north of the Narantolgoi underground gold mines, enjoying easy access year-round. The property contains significant geophysical and gold-arsenic geochemical anomalies in an orogenic gold setting similar to that of the Boroo mine, pointing to the potential for a success story similar to that of the Boroo mine. To date, Altan Rio has taken over 1,200 samples on the property, showing robust arsenic anomalies as well as a small zone of quartz veining revealing visible gold. Until now the property has never been drilled, but March 5th saw the company announcing the commencement of a six hole, 1,800 m drill program that will be completed in early May.
An Economic Climate In Favour Of Gold
The price of gold has tripled over the last five years with 2011 seeing record nominal highs, but will it hit the inflation-adjusted high of $2,500 in the not-too-distant future? The euro zone debt crisis, a seemingly immobile US unemployment rate, geopolitical turmoil spanning the Middle East, debt monetization and competitive currency devaluations are contributing to a mood of uncertainty for investors who continue to choose to hedge their funds in the gold market. Many investors feel that this strategy will pay off as it did in 2011, and will continue to protect their wealth during further economic volatility in the years to come. This is great news for Altan Rio, whose stage is set for a promising 2012.
Altan Rio’s skilled team is led by President and CEO Evan Jones. In addition to his current role, Mr. Jones serves as President, CEO and Director of Altan Nevada Minerals Limited and is the former Commercial Manager of Troy Resources Brasil Participacoes Ltd. and Executive Advisor with Westchester Corporate Finance. Mr. Jones is backed by John LC Jones, Chairman; J. Kelly Cluer, Director of Exploration; Robert Scott, CFO; Murray Seitz, Director; and Paul O’Brien, Director.
As of May 1st Altan Rio’s market capitalization is $18.2 million and shares can be purchased for $0.40.
Follow Altan Rio’s story at www.altanrio.com.