Geologist Jean H. Cornec, a founding director of Belize Natural Energy, which struck commercial oil in Belize in 2005, and who has done extensive work in Belize with the Geology Department (through the UN), has just released a report in which he cites specific areas of Belize – and particularly the Maya Mountains and a network of rivers and tributaries in the region – as having “intriguing gold potential.”
Craig Moore, the current Inspector of Mines, in the Department of Geology and Petroleum, told Amandala this evening, that the Cornec report, to which the department has contributed, is credible. Cornec, who is evidently trying to spark international interest in Belize’s gold reserves with his press release titled, Gold Potential of the Maya Mountains, Belize’s Best Kept Secret?, has always expressed interest in Belize, Moore added.
Dated May 2010, Cornec’s five-page report says, “Belize holds intriguing gold potential in an under-explored region that is politically secure while offering attractive mining deal terms. Alluvial gold was first described more than 60 years ago, and fine gold flakes can be panned in numerous drainages of the Maya Mountains.”
Cornec goes on to say, “Very large portions of the Maya Mountains remain unexplored or under-explored for the bedrock sources of the gold using modern prospecting techniques. This is in part due to challenging surface conditions such as thick vegetation, rugged terrain and limited road access, as well as the lack of knowledge in the mining industry of the gold potential.”
According to the report, a number of drainages in Belize have been reported to have alluvial gold: Mopan River/Chiquibul Branch, Rio Ceibo Chico and Rio Ceibo Grande (& all tributaries), an unnamed tributary to the west of Ceibo Chico, Smokey Branch, Esperanza area, Waha Leaf Creek, Macal River (up to the mouth of Raspaculo Branch), Sittee Branch of South Stann Creek, Sittee River/Cocoa Branch, Silk Grass Creek, Macaroni Creek, South Branch of South Stann Creek and Upper Mullins River.
As our newspaper has previously reported, Erin Ventures, in a joint venture with Boiton Minerals of San Ignacio, Cayo, has been producing and exporting Belize gold since 1999. Cornec’s report claims that between 1999 and 2008, 2,300 ounces were exported. At today’s prices that gold is valued just under $3 million. This exploration work for gold has been ongoing in the Ceibo Chico Creek area.
“In addition to the Ceibo Chico/Grande/Chiquibul watersheds, independent prospecting … also confirms the presence of gold flakes and flour gold in the Macal River at Guacamallo bridge, in Smokey Branch, in the Cocoa Branch of the Sittee River as well as in the Sittee Branch of South Stann Creek,” Cornec documented.
Moore said that currently, Erin Ventures and Boiton are the only team exploring for gold in Belize.
Cornec, however, documents the historical works citing C. Dixon in the early 1950’s, D. Derry Ltd. in the late 1960’s, Anschutz Co. in late 1970’s, F. Gegg in 1980’s, BHP Ltd. and Castle Exploration in the 1990’s, and G. Boiton Minerals and Erin Ventures currently.
Of the latest venture, Cornec writes: “It produces fine and coarse alluvial gold including nuggets weighing between 0.25 ounce and 1.1 ounces. Total production for the period 1999 to 2008 was approximately 2,300 ounces, with nearly three-quarters of this amount produced over the last two years.”
He recommends high-tech surveys via helicopter to guide future exploration works.
Three regions merit special consideration, according to Cornec: the Sittee-Raspaculo area, the Mountain Pine Ridge area, and Ceibo Chico.
Moore indicated that the state of the commodities market and the risk involved with such an investment are among the factors that have kept explorations at bay.
Cornec concludes saying, “It took more than 50 years of exploration by oil companies to find the first commercial fields in Belize, and perhaps with high gold prices, the time has come for the mining industry to step up to the plate and help the country realize its hard rock mineral potential.”
Today’s spot prices for gold are US$1,200 per ounce.