June 19, 2008
Tucson Firm Part of Sonora Gold Mine
By Gabriela Rico, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
Jun. 19--A Tucson mining company is venturing south of the border to explore what could be a lucrative gold and mineral deposit in northern Sonora.
The exploration and mining activities could bring hundreds of jobs to the job-scarce area near Magdalena de Kino, said James A. Briscoe, president and CEO of Liberty Star Uranium & Metals Corp.
A partnership with Mayo Gold, headquartered in Hermosillo, Sonora, means Liberty Star will help finance the project -- known as El Papago Project -- and have 35 percent ownership.
In exchange, Mayo Gold will receive 50 percent ownership in Liberty Star's Tombstone Porphyry Center -- a deposit of copper, molybdenum and other minerals in Cochise County.
Production at both sites could begin next year, Briscoe said.
In Sonora, El Papago sits on 12 square miles, about 45 miles from the U.S. border.
According to exploration reports, El Papago has gold resources measuring as much as 300,000 ounces, Briscoe said.
After producing an industry-standard report on the site, Briscoe applied for financing from the Overseas Private Investment Corp., a U.S. government agency that encourages business investment in underdeveloped countries.
Aside from showing the viability of the project, Liberty Star had to agree to hire workers from the local community to qualify for the OPIC loan.
Briscoe said he expects to have at least 83 workers on the Mexican site when the project kicks off, and the work force will grow as the mine does.
"This will drastically benefit the local economy," he said of the initial small-pit surface mine.
Geological investigation shows the gold grade in the area could be exceptional, Briscoe said.
"We're really excited; it's worth the search," he said.
The Tombstone project, which Liberty Star acquired earlier this year, is made up of 33 mining claims over a square mile near the old Tombstone mines.
Mining throughout the region began in the late 19th century and led to the rise of the town, but it was halted by rock that was too hard for the drill technology at the time.
Better equipment, technology and rising copper prices have sparked interest in taking a second look at the area where many of the mining sites are within a large volcanic and geologic feature known as a caldera, Briscoe explained.
These caldera structures are present throughout Southern Arizona, making the region one of the richest porphyry copper areas in the world. Porphyry copper deposits are cylindrical in shape and can be up to 8,000 feet long.
Liberty Star Uranium & Metals Corp. was founded in 2004.
--Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at 573-4232 or [email protected]
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