Solaris Resources (TSX: SLS; US-OTC: SLSSF) has signed an investment contract with the government of Ecuador on its 100%-owned Warintza copper-gold project, which president and CEO Daniel Earle says “provides a foundation of certainty” and represents a “major milestone” for the company.
The investment contract ratifies the Investment Protection Agreement announced in June and “significantly” de-risks Warintza “by securing a stable regulatory and fiscal framework with international legal protections for the project while also enhancing its returns through permanent new tax incentives,” Earle stated in a press release.
Specifically, the contract provides stability of taxes at a reduced income tax rate of 20%, down from the previous 25%. It also exempts the project from capital outflow tax (5% previously), and from import duties (5% previously).
In addition, the document outlines detailed procedures for dispute resolution and international arbitration protection, Solaris said.
Describing Warintza as a “very important project for the country in terms of scale and investment,” Ecuador Minister of Energy and Mines Fernando Santos Alvite noted that “it is also important for what it represents, which is a great commitment and understanding between the communities and the company.”
The 268 sq. km Warintza property is about 85 km east of the city of Cuenca in southeastern Ecuador.
It lies along a mineral belt that hosts the Mirador copper and gold mine, about 40 km to the south, operated by Ecuacorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan.
Mineralisation at the project occurs over a seven km by five km cluster of copper porphyries that include Warintza Central; Warintza South, three km to the south of Warintza Central; Warintza East, discovered in July 2021, about 1.3 km to the east; and Warintza West, discovered in February 2021, one km to the west.
In April Solaris released an updated mineral resource for the Warintza Central deposit. The in-pit indicated resource at a 0.3% copper-equivalent cut-off grade now measures 579 million tonnes grading 0.47% copper, 0.03% molybdenum, 0.05 gram gold per tonne (0.59% copper equivalent) and inferred resources of 887 million tonnes grading 0.39% copper, 0.01% molybdenum, and 0.04 gram gold (0.47% copper equivalent).
The resource includes an “indicative starter pit” made up of 180 million indicated tonnes grading 0.67% copper, 0.03% moly and 0.07 gram gold (0.82% copper equivalent) and 107 million inferred tonnes grading 0.64% copper, 0.02% moly, and 0.05 gram gold (0.73% copper equivalent). The starter pit resource was based on a copper-equivalent cut-off grade of 0.6%.
The company’s largest shareholder is its executive chairman, Richard Warke (36%). Ross Beaty, who founded Pan American Silver (TSX: PAAS; NASDAQ: PAAS), Alterra Power, and Lumina Copper, owns 4% and the Lundin family another 4%.
Solaris is part of the Augusta Group, a mining sector focused management group based in Canada and the United States.
In late afternoon trading in Toronto, Solaris was at $6.41 per share, down 3% on the day, within a 52-week range of $4.57 and $17.17.
The company has about 129 million common shares outstanding giving it a market cap of around $767 million.