By Alan Ferguson
If GeoNovus Minerals Corp., strikes copper in a newly launched drilling program at its Silver Bell West property in Arizona, it won’t have far to go to find a potential buyer.
Company president Michael England could probably just wave from the head of his drilling rigs to set up a deal.
It’s a scenario laced with audacity and spiced with chutzpah.
Vancouver-based GeoNovus (TSX-V: GNM) announced Jan. 9 that it would sink at least one hole in each of two sites on the property, roughly 45 kilometers northwest of Tucson.
The peculiarity of the situation is that the drilling is taking place within hearing distance of Arizona mining giant, Asarco LLC.
Asarco has been huge in Arizona for 100 years. One of its properties, also called Silver Bell, has been operating since 1954 and in 2010 produced 46.3 million pounds of high-purity copper cathodes.
The two Silver Bells are side by side. In fact, Asarco once owned the claims on both properties and, according to Michael England, at one point thought it still did.
But, about five years ago, GeoNovus learned through an Arizona start-up, Bronco Creek Exploration, that Asarco had somehow lost title to the claims on Silver Bell West and that they had picked them up.
“They (Asarco) apparently didn’t realize they didn’t have this land any more,” says England. “From what I understand they started drilling this ground only to realize they had lost it, so they pulled their drills and went away.”
In the meantime, GeoNovus had struck a deal for the property with Bronco, since taken over by Eurasian Minerals, a global gold and copper exploration company.
“We did a deal with the guys (from Bronco) four years ago,” says England, “and now we are ready to tackle the job.”
Just how close GeoNovus is to treading on the toes of its giant neighbour is indicated in the Jan. 9 press release.
The release specifies that the two test holes will be drilled under the main haul road to Asarco’s oxide pit just 650 meters away. “The Silver Bell West claims cover portions of the open pit mine haul road,” the release states.
“We’re hoping that the deposits on their land come over our way, and we’re drilling underneath their haul road, aiming right at their pit, to see what happens,” says England.
Isn’t Asarco a little upset?
“I know, I know,” says England. “It would be interesting to know what they’re thinking and we do look forward to talking with them”
England expects first results from the drilling program within four weeks. He has high hopes.
“Our team of geologists are very excited about the potential of this drill program!”.
“We’d love to hit a couple of hundred meters of copper, that’s for sure. Then we can decide on the next move . . . see what Asarco wants to do.”
Does England expect Asarco to come knocking at his door?
“I think they would have to,” he says. “They’re a built-in buyer if we hit, that’s for sure. They’re a natural if we really happen to latch on to something.
If not, England is optimistic about a second Arizona copper prospect at Red Hills that GeoNovus, along with partner (copper giant Inmet Mining Corp), intend to start drilling soon.
“Copper is a strong commodity,” says England. “If you make the right discovery, the market will pay attention. It’s tough to raise money of course, but we think we’ve got some high quality projects, some pretty good chances, and so do our investors, and that’s how we’re able to fund them.
“I have a great team around me. We are like family, and I’m so proud of that. We’re coming awfully close to hitting that home run, I think.”
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