Between 2012 and 2015 the Chinchillas project was advanced by Golden Arrow from a grassroots discovery to a major new silver lead and zinc deposit. This was the third significant deposit discovered by a Grosso Group company.
In late 2015 Golden Arrow entered into a Business Combination agreement with Silver Standard (now SSR Mining, NASDAQ/TSX: SSRM,"SSRM") . The agreement envisioned merging the Chinchillas deposit with SSRM's nearby Pirquitas silver operation in order to extend the life of Pirquitas and provide the infrastructure to fast-track the development of Chinchillas, at favorable capex costs. The Pirquitas mine achieved commercial production in 2009 and operated as an open pit mine until January 2017. The operation includes a conventional mineral flotation plant producing concentrates that are shipped to third party smelters.
A pre-feasibility study ("PFS") was completed for the joint-venture development of Chinchillas, as detailed in Golden Arrow's new release dated March 31, 2017. The supporting National Instrument 43-101 technical report has been filed on SEDAR dated May 15 2017. Following the release of the PFS, on March 31, 2017 Golden Arrow received the required notice from SSR Mining to exercise its option on the Chinchillas project and complete the joint venture to combine the Chinchillas project with the producing Pirquitas Mine into a single new operation. The joint venture, called Puna Operations Inc., is owned on a 75% / 25% basis by SSRM and GRG, respectively.
The final permit ("EIA") for Chinchillas was received at the end of December 2017, and construction and development activities commenced. The joint-venture processed the remaining stockpiles from the Pirquitas silver deposit through the first half of 2018. Commercial production was declared at Chinchillas on December 1st, 2018. SSRM is the operator of the joint venture and reports the detailed operational results as well as updated resource and reserve tables in their quarterly and annual reporting, which is available on their website or SEDAR profile.
For a detailed description of the geology and exploration history of Chinchillas, please see the most recent technical report here.
There is property and regional exploration potential at both Chinchillas and Pirquitas, and it is expected that Puna operations will continue to explore for resources to further extend the mine life. In addition, there is potential for small-scale underground mining of resources at Pirquitas to supplement the ore from Chinchillas.