Irish Marine Oil became Minco in February 2000. The Minco strategy is to create a vibrant base metal and precious metal producer and explorer. Minco holds some of the most prospective exploration ground in Ireland. Minco has completed the acquisition of Orca Gold by issuing 35 million Minco shares, representing 46 % of the expanded Minco equity.

Minco plc. - Orca Gold Corporation   

Orca Gold Corporation is a Bahamas based unlisted public company which focus is on Gold and Silver Projects. Orca Gold has a highly experienced management team with a very strong mining and finance track record. The management team of Roger Turner, Matthew Dorman and Richard Thornton has amassed a portfolio of silver and gold projects in the famous Zacatecas silver province in Mexico. This portfolio of assets is comprised of the El Milagros (Silver), El Morro (Silver) and Los Pinos (Gold) properties as well as an option over the Laguna Tailings Project. Combining all the properties results in Orca having Gold Equivalent resources in excess of 1,000,000 ozs.

The El Milagros (Silver), El Morro (Silver) and Los Pinos (Gold) properties are exploration properties within part of the famous Zacatecas lead-gold-silver province. They each comprise past working operations, and apart from the inferred and indicated underground resources quoted for El Milagros vein systems, In addition to the inferred resources, there are a number of tailings and dump materials with economically recoverable grades of silver and gold. 

El Milagros, Zacatecas. The series of claims follow the NW/SE strike of a series of two vein systems of Oligocene age hosted amongst Cretaceous andesites and rhyolites. The project consists of an approximately 9 km vein system with reported widths up to ~8m and 1000 g/t Ag. A portion of this system, called the Santa Rita was mined during the colonial period. No mining has occurred beneath the water table which is ~50-60m below the surface. Previous concession owners have sunk two shafts, called Tesorito (~65m) and Tabasquena (~85m) about 1km apart on the NW end of the El Milagro system. A drift to connect these two shafts has about 200m remaining to be completed. The known strike length of the Tesorito workings is in the order of 1km, indicating an inferred resource of some 1 million tonnes between two shafts marking either end of this strike. An average reported grade, based upon the previous smelter returns is 580 g/t silver. The ratio between silver and gold is around 1000:1, with gold generally at 0.4 g/t.

El Morrow Ag Property, Zacatecas. The property is located some 11 km north-northeast of Milagros. The area is depicted by El Morro hill, which comprises a thick extruded plug of rhyolite. The property comprises eleven claims totalling approximately 4277 hectares. The area within the claims, which has attracted much of the past historic mining and milling activity, is the area around La Haciendita. This area is an old Spanish-colonial operation and has not been touched in the past 100 years. The claims, collectively known as the El Morro claims, occupy much of the ground south of and including El Morro hill. To the south of the hill between five and six veins, around 1.5m wide, can be observed striking northwest - southeast, and dipping to the southwest at around 600. The veins run between 200 and 1000 g/t silver. Dump and tailings deposits within the property show good gold and silver grades and are being evaluated. 

Los Pinos Au Property, Zacatecas. The claims are located around Loma Alta, which is approximately 1-1.5 km northwest of the provincial town of Pinos, and which is approximately 1.5 hours drive from Zacatecas. Pinos, with a population of some 3,500, is an historic centre for gold mining operations in the area. The oldest gold mining operation in the area was an old British gold and silver mine, and with its reported bonanza gold grades of 200+ g/t occurring in 30+ northwest – southeast striking veins, and producing gold from at least ten main shafts, made Los Pinos the largest gold producer in Zacatecas during the colonial period. 

Laguna Ag, Au, Hg Tailings Project, Zacatecas.  The project is located east of the municipality of Guadalupe, Zacatecas State, and contains gold, silver and mercury tailings from silver amalgam mills, which were in production from the 15th century until the revolution in 1914. The tailings which now reportedly contains 9.1 million tonnes with an average grade of 102 g/t silver (Ag), 0.5 g/t gold (Au) and 346 g/t mercury (Hg), based on 238 holes drilled by Real del Monte y Pachuca in 1931. A 1994 pre-feasibility study, undertaken by Kilborn Engineering of Canada, indicated that 20 million tonnes of tailings is available for processing (9.1 million submerged in the lagoon, and 10.9 million on land adjacent to the lagoon) with grades of 85 g/t silver, 0.4 g/t gold, and 350 g/t (ppm) of mercury. The Laguna silver tailings project in Zacatecas, Mexico contains up to 24 million ounces of recoverable silver. We will finalize negotiations with the Mexican authorities and with local landowners. An existing bankable feasibility study will be updated.

Minco holds 22 concessions on historical silver producers in Zacatecas, Mexico. A drilling and prospecting program is being mobilized. Negotiations are underway to finalize permitting of 55 Million Ounce silver tailings project in Laguna Zacatecana.

Zacatecas province in Mexico has been the center of silver production for hundreds of years. Mexico is the world’s biggest silver producer. We hold 21 silver concessions in Zacatecas. We are currently prioritizing an exploration program for 2004. Most of the concessions are former producers. Any explorer will tell you, the best place to find a mine is where there was a mine. Minco has completed the acquisition of Orca Gold by issuing 35 million Minco shares, representing 46 % of the expanded Minco equity. Orca holds silver licenses together with options on the Laguna multimillion tonne silver tailings deposit, all in the Zacatecas region of Mexico, and is actively negotiating gold projects in Central Asia. 

Minco To Acquire Orca Gold With Its Portfolio Of Mexican Silver And Gold Projects.

It was the last straw as far as AIM listed Minco was concerned when Noranda withdrew from the Pallas Green zinc joint venture in Ireland. Pallas Green was described by John Teeling, chairman of Minco, as one of the best zinc plays in the world. Noranda must have agreed with him as it spent 1.2 million on the project, but the big Canadian company eventually called a halt . The price of zinc was too low and it was too expensive and difficult to operate in Ireland. Minco has interests in 33 zinc licences in Ireland and at one time Rio Algom, Anglo American and BHP-Billiton were its partners, but they preceded Noranda out of the door.

Last week Minco was the biggest mover on the AIM market when it fell by 17 per cent following the release of its preliminary figures. The statement accompanying these figures confirmed Noranda’s exit and indicated that the company would need to raise more capital if it was to continue. This news effectively marked the end of several decades of exploration for zinc in Ireland by the major mining companies. Some of Minco’s licences were first established almost fifty years ago by Pat Hughes whose companies discovered the Tynagh, Gortdrum and Tara mines and have been held by the various successor companies ever since – Minco being the last. There is little chance that Minco’s Irish gold licences or its royalty at Curraghinalt would pull it out of the hole, so the pressure was on John Teeling to do something before it was too late.

Do it he did with the announcement this week that Minco has agreed to acquire a private company called Orca Gold founded not long ago by Roger Turner after he lost the fight at Oxus Mining, which he also founded. Effectively this is a reverse deal with Orca shareholders ending up with 46 per cent of the enlarged company and putting three directors on the Minco board. However under AIM rules it is classified as a purchase as Orca has 50 million shares in issue having raised US$1 million over the past year. According to legal opinion and brokers Campbell O’Connor in Dublin full documentation is not required, just a report by an independent expert. All that has to be done, apart from the legal and regulatory approvals, is get the nod from Orca shareholders.

So what is Minco buying? Orca’s assets are gold and silver concessions in Mexico including two high grade silver properties, one gold property and an option on the Laguna silver tailings project which is said to contain 20 million tonnes averaging 90 g/t silver. All of them are in the Zacatecas province which currently produces 17 per cent of the world’s silver. The price of silver itself is going well in 2003 as the price averaged US$4.66/oz in the first quarter of the year and now stands at US$5.14/oz. The forecast from the Silver Institute is bullish as output declined last year while demand stayed strong, particularly from industrial uses and jewelry. This trend is expected to continue this year as more base metal producers are cutting back and no new production of significance is anticipated.

The Milagros claims cover a vein system 9 kms in length with widths up to 8 metres and grades as high as 1,000 g/t silver. Part of it was mined during the colonial period. More recently two shafts were sunk at the western end of the system and a drift was mined between the two, but left uncompleted. The distance between the shafts marking either end of this strike is 1 kilometre from which a resource of a million tonnes can be inferred and the average reported grade , based on previous smelter returns is 580 g/t silver. Only 11 kms to the north east is the El Morro silver property which has not been touched for a very long time. To the south of the El Morro hill five veins about 1.5 metres wide can be seen and they are said to grade between 200 and 1,000 g/t silver. The Los Pinos gold property is some way away and was the largest gold producer in Zacatecas during colonial times as evidenced by the ten main shafts. It is said to have 2.5 million tonnes of dumps grading 2.5 g/t gold with around 35 to 40g/t silver in the dumps and tailings.

Speedy cash flow has to be the target for the new Minco so scoping studies on the possible treatment of these dumps and tailings and those at Laguna should take priority over exploration. Pan American Silver commissioned a pre-feasibility study at Laguna 10 years ago and did not proceed simply because it ran into well documented problems in Russia. This should be resuscitated as Roger Turner will want to rebut the comment by Bill Trew, who took over from him at Oxus, that. he found files on every conceivable aspect of geology and finance, but no business plan to drive development forward. “Five volumes in glorious technicolour, but not a word about profit.” Weighed against that, to be fair, has to be Trew’s claim in the same interview that “we now know what we have got and Oxus is a treasure chest.”

Minco shareholders will be hoping that Roger Turner has repeated the trick with the Orca (named after a killer whale) portfolio. This time he will have John Teeling, a large shareholder as his chairman, so an eye will be kept on the share price at all times. And cash flow, even in relatively modest amounts, makes a lot of difference when raising funds for exploration or development.

Press Release 13Oct03