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The Ecuador Enigma: Aurania Resources
“If we find the cities, we find the gold,” he says.

That is, if you buy into Barron’s story—and plenty of people do. Barron has raised more than $5 million from some of the biggest names in mining, including Rob McEwen, founder of Goldcorp Inc., the world’s No. 3 gold producer. They’re backing Barron’s search through his publicly traded Toronto-based company, Aurania Resources Ltd., and their enthusiasm stems from his previous success finding a big Ecuadorean gold deposit.

– Bloomberg, December 2017

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In the few years I have studied the junior exploration sector, I can honestly say that I have never found a story so captivating as that of Aurania Resources. Even if you decide not to invest (and there are reasons to be hesitant about buying), I believe you’ll find their story as fascinating as I did. It’s a lengthy tale, but one needs to know how it all began if one is to appreciate the possibilities, as well as the problems that may lay ahead. Allow me to take you back in time, to the jungles of Ecuador and the year 1998…

(I have pieced together information from various sources to create the best timeline possible, all links will be included in this post except for Aurania’s press releases which can be found on their website. I will also include a list of videos worth watching for those that would like to learn more.)

Chapter One - Aurelian Resources

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The remarkable story of Aurelian Resources and its discovery of Fruta del Norte – a blind gold deposit the company’s geologists found in the Cordillera del Condor in southeastern Ecuador – is one for the history books. The narrative begins with Keith Barron, an exploration geologist who co-founded Aurelian in 2001, listed the company on the Toronto Venture Exchange in 2003, and along with Stephen Leary and Patrick Anderson discovered the multi-million ounce gold deposit in 2006, selling it two years later to Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) for C$1.2 billion. Perhaps less well known is that at the time of the discovery, Barron actually had been looking for two famous gold mining areas in the country, which historic Spanish documents and maps from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries referred to as ‘Sevilla del Oro’ and ‘Logroño de los Caballeros.’ That quest began somewhat serendipitously in 1998, when Barron, on a field leave from a job in Venezuela, happened to enrol in a Spanish language school in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. To immerse himself in the language, Barron lived with a local family, the head of which was a history professor, Dr. Octavio Latorre, who had earned a PhD from Boston College. Dr. Latorre was lecturing at the Universidad Internacional in Quito at the time and specializing in cartography of the age of the Spanish conquistadors in the New World.

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The map shows the location of seven gold mining cities in Ecuador and Peru dating back to the Incas. Four of the cities exist today; a fifth, Nambija, was rediscovered in 1981 when a group of boys hunting wild boars stumbled across the ruins of a mine dug by the conquistadors. The original Logroño and Sevilla have never been located, though there are cities by that name in Ecuador. The map is far from precise. Like all maps of the era, it lacks longitude and latitude measurements, making it little more than a crude approximation.

In 2000, Dr. Barron returned to Ecuador and discussed the possibilities of forming a company with the express purpose of re-locating the “Lost Cities” using both geological data and the historical documentation. Following a second trip to Ecuador, Dr Barron read the book, The Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder (1998) which discussed the novel use of historical data of variable reliability in the application of Bayesian search theory. The book detailed the search for the wreck of the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer that had gone down in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in September, 1857 while carrying a shipment of gold from the San Francisco US Mint. The Columbus-America Discovery Group engaged Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Stone to use their historical data search matrix to develop a probability map of geographic cells with weighted probability coefficients. Those cells of highest probability were examined first by marine sonar. Ultimately, this work was successful, locating the wreck in September, 1988. It is considered the richest shipwreck of all time, and to date $1 billion US in bullion bars and coins has been recovered. Dr. Barron gifted Dr. Latorre a copy of the book which he quickly devoured; but the verdict was that they lacked sufficient historical geographical clues to proceed in a similar direction.

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In January 2001, after receiving information from the Regional Director of Mines Mr. Daniel Philco, Dr. Barron visited a gold showing in the border area in the Province of Zamora-Chinchipe and realized that artisanal gold miners vacuum-dredging in the rivers were only 4 kilometres from the drainage divide that marked the international border. As the streams had their origins at the top of the Cordillera, not on the other side in Peru, the source of the gold in these rivers was likely somewhere in the narrow strip between the miners and the border line.

In April 2001, Dr. Barron, mainly through personal funds, began amassing exploration concessions, including the one which now contains the Fruta del Norte (FDN) gold mine. After the Aurelian company went public in June, 2003 other lands were acquired to ultimately reach a package of 93,000 hectares.

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Barron first struck Ecuadorean gold in 2006 when he discovered the Fruta del Norte deposit. Two years later, a newly elected leftist government put a freeze on mining exploration and restricted production. Barron says his company lost more than $700 million in market value in one day. Kinross Gold bought it later that year for $605 million, some of which went into founding Barron’s new company. Until the ban was lifted last year, Barron explored elsewhere. He owns a sapphire mine in the U.S., a uranium exploration project in Argentina and stakes in several other companies. But the archival research to locate the lost cities continued.

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Chapter Two - Aurania Resources & the Adventures of Dr. Barron

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Later in 2008, Dr. Barron again joined forces with Dr. Latorre to find the Lost Cities, having this time the advantage of well-funded archival research. Besides examining archives in Ecuador, they travelled further afield to the Archivo Historico Arzobispal and the Riva Agüero Institute, Lima; the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid; the Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library; the British Museum Library, London; the Archive of the Indies (Archivo General de Indias) in Seville, Spain; and the Manuscript Section of the Apostolic Library of the Vatican, Rome. Over 100 historic documents relating to Logroño and Sevilla del Oro were discovered in Seville alone.

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The task was slow-going, with investigators reading through 400-year-old texts—their pages so delicate they had to be handled with special tongs. “It was hard work,” says Carlos Latorre, Octavio’s son, whom Barron recruited. “Just turning one page was such a meticulous job.”

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The team unearthed testimonies of Spaniards who had defended Sevilla and Logroño against attacks from the Shuar people. The jibaros, as the conquistadors called them, were infamous for decapitating their prisoners to make shrunken heads. The cities were destroyed several times.

During a 2011 visit to the Vatican, Drs. Barron and Latorre found an anthology referencing the Compendium and Description of the West Indies written in 1628-29 by Carmelite priest Antonio Vazquez de Espinosa. Although this document was eventually unearthed in the Manuscript Section of the Apostolic Library in the Vatican (Barb Lat. 3584), it was housed in a different part of the library than Dr. Latorre visited and would not be located until a digitally scanned version became available online in 2015. Modern editions include a translation of the work into English (Vol. 102, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 1942) and a Spanish transcription from the handwritten original (1948 by the Smithsonian).

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Aurania Resources IPO’d in April 2013:

Aurania is a mineral exploration company engaged in the business of acquiring and exploring mineral resource properties. It is currently exploring for gold, copper, silver and uranium on its three mineral properties, namely the Mont Chemin, Marécottes and Siviez projects, which cover approximately 99 km2 in south-western Switzerland. The Corporation’s 100% interests in its projects are held by the Corporation’s Swiss subsidiary, AuroVallis Sàrl, through exploration permits granted by the Canton of Valais, in Switzerland.

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Aurania has some Swiss duds (?) in Feb 2014:

Aurania Resources Ltd. (TSXV: AOZ) (“Aurania”) reports that it has received all assay results from the initial exploration drill programme on the Siviez U-Cu-Au project in Switzerland. The programme consisted of 623 metres of diamond drilling in 4 holes designed to test surface showings and radiometric anomalies. These initial drill holes at Siviez followed the 1390 metre drill program at the Mont Chemin gold project, taking advantage of minimal incremental mobilization costs. Drilling was initiated at Siviez later in 2013 than planned and snowfall impeded both access to the property and moves between holes. The second hole was abandoned and redrilled due to water loss issues and freezing night temperatures.

The drilling provided valuable geological and structural information, however failed to encounter any zones of significant radiometric response and subsequent assays did not reveal any substantial uranium mineralization. Anomalous copper was returned from several intervals suggesting that the mineralized halo was sampled. Core recovery was poor and it is suggested that mineralized intervals may have been lost. Mineralization at Siviez is visible at numerous locations at surface along a 5.5 kilometre strike length. However, the uraninite typically occurs as discrete clots, rather than continuous bands. This “nugget effect” was expected to pose some sampling challenges.

Toronto, Ontario – (November 13, 2014) – Aurania Resources Ltd. (TSXV: AOZ) (“Aurania”) is pleased to report that it has received renewals for its three exploration permits in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. The Marecottes, Siviez and Mont Chemin permits are renewed until June 2015. Under the Canton’s mining law, Aurania can request an additional 5-year extension on the permits at that time.

NO NEWS 2015

Aurania Changes Trading Symbol, Focuses on Ecuador Instead of Switzerland

Toronto, Ontario (February 23, 2016): Aurania Resources Ltd. (TSXV: ARU) (“Aurania”) is pleased to announce that it has successfully petitioned the TSX Venture Exchange (“TSXV”) to change the trading symbol of its common shares from “AOZ” to “ARU”. The common shares of Aurania commenced trading on the TSXV under the symbol “ARU” effective at market opening on February 22, 2016.

Dr. Barron was able to examine and obtain photographic reproductions of the original volume in the Vatican in May, 2016. The book gave a description of how to get to Sevilla del Oro with place names that were still recognizable today and established that the Cordillera de Cutucu, some 100 km north of Fruta del Norte, was the site of the two lost settlements. Dr. Barron had applied for 208,000 hectares in the Cutucu in March, 2016, but a long-standing moratorium on staking ground was in effect. During the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference, the moratorium was lifted. At 12:01 am, while others were at the Ecuador Ministry of Mines cocktail reception, Barron and his VP Exploration were typing in coordinates. The concessions were awarded in December.

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One of Dr. Barron’s prized possessions is a framed map purchased from an antiquarian bookseller in New York City for $30,000, it is labelled in Latin “Peruviae Auriferae Regionis Typus” (Gold Regions of Peru) and dates from 1584. Duke University maintains an online copy of this highly sought-after map. Contributing to its demand is that in addition to the map of Peru, it also includes the first ever map of Florida. The map by cartographer Diego Mendez, states that it is itself a copy from an older 1574 map. It clearly shows the positions of Logroño and Sevilla, but as it predates the invention of the determination of longitude by some 200 years, it is only a rough approximation.

Chapter Three – Metron Enters the Scene

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In March, 2017, Dr. Barron contacted Dr. Stone at Metron in Reston Virginia, to explore the possibilities of cooperating together to find the Lost Cities. True analysis was not feasible until the land package of 208,000 hectares was granted and a general first pass geological reconnaissance carried out. By 2019, regional geochemical stream sediment surveys, geological mapping, soil sampling, geophysical surveys, and other exploration techniques were completed and their data available to be married with the historical data by Metron.

Metron is a company that specializes in searches and works mostly for the US Dept of Defence. The lead scientist applied this Bayesian search theory to find “The Ship of Gold”, the SS Central America, which carried $3B of gold that came from the San Francisco mint.

“The sinking of the S.S. Central America has been described as the greatest economic catastrophe in U.S. maritime history, contributing to the Panic of 1857 and leading to a severe recession.”

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‘Metron helped not by traversing the jungles of Ecuador and scouring the Vatican libraries, but by processing reams of historical, geological, geochemical, and geophysical information, and transforming the hard and subjective data into actionable probabilities. They did this for the searches for Logroño and Sevilla, as well as for determining the likely locations of deposits of gold, silver, and copper.’

Aurania’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Keith Barron commented, “The plan is that Metron will work with Aurania on a wide range of information, including an extensive archive of historical data and ancient maps culled from international sources over a decade by Professor Octavio Latorre and I, integrated with topographic data, geological information, exploration results, geophysics and satellite imagery. Aurania’s Project area will be divided up into geographic cells, each of which will be assigned a probability ranking based on the combination of the available data. Cells with the highest probability ranking will be prioritized for focussed follow-up, supported by LiDAR surveys (light direction and ranging), a technology that has been used successfully in the discovery of lost cities in jungle-covered areas of Guatemala, Honduras and Cambodia. It is hoped that this initiative will substantially accelerate our exploration of the Lost Cities.”

Chapter Four – Exploration Begins With Key Acquisition

“It’s the infierno verde, the green hell,” says Barron. “It stinks, and everything bites you and pricks you.”

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TORONTO, ONTARIO–(March 2, 2017) – Aurania Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:ARU) (“Aurania” or the “Corporation“) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a definitive purchase and sale agreement (the “Agreement“) to acquire EcuaSolidus S.A. (“ESA“), a company incorporated under the laws of the Republic of Ecuador, from Dr. Keith Barron (the “Vendor“), the President and CEO of Aurania (the “Transaction“).

Barron wasted no time applying for an 803-square-mile concession (that’s almost the size of the state of Rhode Island) after the Ecuadorean government lifted its ban on new gold mines in 2016. “We had pinned down Sevilla and Logroño within a 10-mile radius,” Barron says. “I had kept very quiet for almost 10 years; I was terrified that someone would get there before us.”

The Lost Cities – Cutucu Project

The Lost Cities – Cutucu Project consists of forty-two (42) mineral exploration licences, totaling 207,764 hectares (~2,080 square kilometres) that covers the core of the Cordillera de Cutucu, a mountain range in the foothills of the Andes within the Province of Morona-Santiago in southeastern Ecuador.

Historic Spanish literature, including reports of gold production, point to the Cordillera de Cutucu as the location of two famous gold mining areas that operated in the 16th and 17th Centuries: Sevilla del Oro and Logroño de los Caballeros. The exact locations of these historical gold mining centres within the jungle have been lost over time. Each of these centres had a “Caja Real” or outpost of the Royal Treasury to ensure that the King of Spain received the “Quinto” or Royal Fifth production royalty. Extensive research by professional archivists in Spain, the Vatican and Ecuador, commissioned by ESA, revealed more than a hundred supporting historical documents relating to gold mining at Logroño de los Caballeros and Sevilla del Oro. There is strong evidence that indicates that these “Lost Cities” may be located within the project area.

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Today, the only mining in the Cordillera de Cutucu is in artisanal sluicing and hand-panning operations that wash gold from river gravels. The project area is largely unexplored by modern exploration techniques. It has been subjected only to regional geological mapping by oil companies and government institutions – with the key finding being that the rock formations that host the 7 million ounce (Moz) Fruta del Norte epithermal gold and the 2.7Moz Nambija skarn gold deposits in the adjacent Cordillera del Condor extend into the core of the Cordillera de Cutucu.

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The Fruta del Norte Deposit, located roughly 90 km south of the project area, is being developed by Lundin Gold Inc. and is scheduled to start production in 2020, with a planned ramp-up to annual production of 340,000 ounces of gold in 2021. The Nambija skarn deposits, located roughly 95 km southwest of the project area, have been mined by informal miners who officially reported 2.7Moz of gold production between 1981 and 2000.

In addition to these gold-rich deposits, the adjacent Cordillera del Condor contains a chain of porphyry deposits that are reported to contain measured and indicated resources of 9 billion pounds (Blbs) of copper, 11 Moz of gold and 61Moz of silver (Table 1). Inferred resources include an additional 22 Blbs of copper, 7Moz of gold and 30Moz of silver. Mines are under construction on two of the porphyry deposits, namely Mirador and San Carlos, with combined resources of 17Blbs of copper. The Lost Cities – Cutucu Project lies along-trend of this chain of porphyries and, since it contains the same rock formations that host the mineral deposits in the adjacent Cordillera del Condor, has potential to host similar deposits.

Chapter Five – The Exploration Team

“This is long, hard work,” says Bart Wilson, one of the geologists who’s worked with Barron for decades. “You’re wet and really uncomfortable all the time. You spend weeks on the geologist’s diet: rice with tuna—for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

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The on-site exploration team increased to seven geologists, six of whom are Ecuadorian. The entire exploration team is involved in the stream sediment sampling program. As targets are identified from the combination of historical data, geophysics, satellite image interpretation and stream sediment sampling and mapping, the three senior geologists will undertake the more detailed exploration of those sites. The foreign geologist in the team, Bart Wilson has over 17 years of exploration in South America and was involved in the early-stage exploration that led to the discovery of the Fruta Del Norte gold deposit in the geologically contiguous belt in southeastern Ecuador.

The exploration team is working in close association with two local environmental scientists and two local community relations specialists whom have already proven to be very effective in building a local team as well as developing open communication with local communities.

In 2010, Barron hired Jean Paul Pallier, a French geologist, famous among gold explorers for his discovery of the Camp Caiman deposit in French Guiana. He was brought on to the Lost Cities project to meld history and geology—producing approximations of the gold cities’ locations. Documents narrating colonial treks were particularly useful for their detailed descriptions of terrain and travel times between settlements by foot or horse, allowing Pallier to make rough calculations of distances. From there, he drew lines and circles on a map, narrowing the possibilities with each description. In the end, he says, “it all pointed to the Cutucú mountains.”

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The Shuar, also known as Jíbaros, are an indigenous people located in the Amazon, with a binational presence in Ecuador and Peru.

Clearing a path through the thick growth are a dozen locals, descendants of the Shuar who fought the invading Spaniards. The Shuar have told Pallier about demons living in caves in the mountains and the geologist thinks some of these caves could be the tunnels of the old Spanish mines. “They know the secrets of the jungle better than anyone,” Pallier, one of four geologists on the trip, says.

The Cutucú mountains are one of the few places in the world that remain unexplored by geologists. The process has barely changed through the years. Geologists follow each stream up to its source, collecting samples of sediment and rocks every few hundred meters that are later sent to laboratories which test for the presence of gold and other minerals. “If the results come back positive, we know the mineral comes from somewhere upstream,” Pallier says.

Wearing rubber boots and holding picks and machetes in their hands, the explorers move slowly through the mud. To cross the creek, the group goes waist-deep into the brown, turbulent current. The bottom is slippery as we take samples from the creek bed. The team notes the spot. The hike will continue upstream for about four hours, the team will then set up a camp and take more samples upriver for three days. Then they’ll move the camp and repeat the process. Supplies are usually sent in on horse, and later, as the crew moves deeper into jungle, they’re air-dropped from a helicopter or small plane.

Barron says the odds of finding a big strike are still about 1,000 to 1. Most of the time, “the amount of gold you find can fill the back of a pickup car and that’s all there is,” Barron says. “But if you’re finding little things, then there’s potential to find more things.”

“Hopefully this is going to finish with a big, fat discovery.”

Chapter Six – A Notable Addition

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Toronto, Ontario, March 5, 2018 – Aurania Resources Ltd. (TSXV: ARU) (“Aurania” or the “Company”) announces that it has created an Advisory Committee and is pleased that Mr. Alfred Lenarciak has joined the Company as an independent Special Advisor to the Board of Directors.

Aurania’s founder and CEO, Dr. Keith Barron commented, “We are delighted to have Alfred back in the resource industry – to spend some time away from his varied and colourful pursuits that include unearthing original 16th century manuscripts and, together with his wife, rebuilding her ancestral estate that dates from 11th century, in southern Italy. We are truly honoured to have a member of the Saint Sylvester Order of the Vatican, and author of 6 published books, serve our shareholders and our Company.”

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Alfred Lenarciak resigned from the company for personal reasons on September 22, 2021 but remains an advisor to Aurania. He is the author of the book BreX Dead Man’s Story, which inspired the movie “Gold” starring Matthew McConaughey (recommended watch, I've seen it 4x now)!


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Chapter Seven – Target Practice

In the years that have followed, Aurania performed numerous exploration programs on multiple projects – all of which required significant amounts of financing. I've taken various excerpts from press releases to give you an idea of each one.

Latorre

The Latorre area is developing into a large and growing target for epithermal gold-silver. ‘We are seeing characteristics that are not only similar to those that led to the discovery of the Fruta del Norte gold-silver deposit, 110 kilometres to the south, but also to the Alto Chicama deposit (Lagunas Norte Mine) in northern Peru.’

‘A video of geysers in the Yellowstone National Park that illustrates what we picture for the formation of the Latorre area can be found at https://yellowstonenaturalist.com/geyserwatch/’

Tsenken

“Tsenken N1 is an area where there are a number of small, mineralized breccia bodies with limited exposure on surface in some stream beds. Most of the area in between the breccias is covered by thick foliage and not outcropping. Breccias, which essentially are bodies of broken and cemented rock, in this case with copper mineralization between the fragments, can be formed geologically in many ways, but here a key to their interpretation is the presence of “exotic fragments” which are clearly not from the wallrock. These fragments have been brought, probably from considerable depth, up the breccia conduit, by volcanic eruption. Breccia conduits or “breccia pipes” commonly will coalesce at depth into a larger breccia body or into the upper levels of a porphyry. Several years ago, I examined a group of metre-scale copper breccia pipes underground and on surface at Tres Chorreras in Azuay Province in Ecuador, and these ultimately merged downward into a copper porphyry that was intersected in drilling. I am hopeful that we have a similar geological scenario here.”

Kirus

“Kirus is remarkably like the Tsenken target reported on last week (see press release dated April 2, 2019). The targets, 6km apart, are associated with highly magnetic features evident in the geophysics survey that we flew over the Cutucu – Lost Cities Project. Both targets have high-grade copper and silver in sedimentary rocks over, and adjacent to, their respective magnetic feature. The significance of these sediment-hosted targets is that they are sheet-like and would be relatively simple to drill. The magnetic features are interpreted to be porphyry bodies that represent deeper targets that would be drill-tested later in our exploration program.”

Dr. Keith Barron, Chairman and CEO of Aurania commented, “While our last few press releases have focused on high-grade copper and silver from various targets in the Tsenken area, we’ve also been working in the Kirus target area six kilometres to the south. I’m delighted to report that sedimentary-hosted copper and silver have been encountered over an extensive area there too. At Tsenken, one large target area is resolving into specific targets that will be drill-tested shortly; in the same way, we expect that ongoing work at Kirus will lead to the definition of specific targets to be tested by scout drilling.”

Yawi

Toronto, Ontario, January 29, 2021 – Aurania Resources Ltd. (TSXV: ARU) (OTCQB: AUIAF) (Frankfurt: 20Q) (“Aurania” or the “Company”) reports that its on-going MobileMT geophysical survey has clearly defined a target that has the characteristics of a porphyry at its Yawi target in the Company’s Lost Cities – Cutucu Project (“Project”) in southeastern Ecuador (Figure 1). Porphyries constitute the largest source of copper worldwide.

Aurania’s Chairman & CEO, Dr. Keith Barron commented, “Our approach to advancing the numerous targets that we have in the Lost Cities – Cutucu Project could not be better illustrated than by our exploration of the Yawi target: field work and soil sampling was followed by scout drilling that showed a favourable geological environment for epithermal and porphyry mineralization. Vectors derived from study of the drill core suggested that the centre of a mineralized system lies to the southeast. Focused field work confirmed the prospectivity of that area and further work was put on hold, awaiting results from the MobileMT geophysics. MobileMT has given us just what we were expecting – a clearly defined feature that looks very much like a porphyry along trend of our geologically-defined vectors. We now have a clear target at Yawi and are procuring a second drill capable of testing it.”

Tiria-Shimpia

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The ridge crest along which the western road lies, is an area where the soil is enriched in silver, lead, zinc and epithermal pathfinder elements such as antimony. Some of the jungle-covered topographic features near both roads are suspected to be small scale open-pit mine sites, and others may be prospecting pits, and these areas will be investigated further in the coming months.

Tiria-Shimpia is a large target area that is over 75 square kilometres in extent. The Company’s exploration efforts in this area have been guided by its similarity to the silver-zinc-lead deposits of the Colquijirca district in Peru that contains the Cerro de Pasco deposit that was mined for silver by the Colonial Spanish from the year 1630 – and is still being mined today.

Professor Gregor Borg, an expert on sediment-hosted copper systems, who has worked both in the Central African Copperbelt and the European Kupferschiefer, recently visited site to review the exploration programs and drill core from Tsenken and Tiria-Shimpia.

Professor Borg commented, “I have not seen many mineralized systems that extend 45 kilometres along a fault system as we see in the central part of Aurania’s Lost Cities Project. The change from copper-centric in the Tsenken area to zinc-rich in the Tiria-Shimpia target is consistent metal zoning that is evident in the Kupferschiefer. I came away from my second review of Aurania’s sedimentary copper exploration program as convinced as I was on my first visit that the red-bed basin is highly fertile and has very good potential for sediment-hosted copper. We optimized some of the concepts on the basis of the features that we saw in the drill core, and I have encouraged the exploration team to keep drilling.”

Tatasham

The Tatasham target, a feature that has characteristics of a porphyry, a deposit type that contains over half of the world’s copper resources. Tatasham is located near the western margin of the Company’s Lost Cities – Cutucu Project area (“Project”) in southeastern Ecuador.

President and CEO, Dr. Keith Barron commented, “It is very early in the story of Tatasham, but it is showing all the hallmarks of a large and vigorous hydrothermal system. We have discovered silica sinter over 2.7 km strike length, at the surface and in drill core. As well, zones of oxidized hydrothermal breccia were intersected below the sinter, similar in character to those found at Fruta del Norte. One thing that is apparent from the drilling is that the sinter horizon steepens downhole such that the bedding ends up aligned with the core axis. What this tells us is that the horizon is substantially tilted as you go to depth, as it would be in a pull-apart setting. You can think of it as a steep-sided valley opening up along a structure and the horizontally bedded rocks gradually tilting into the chasm as it widens. This is exactly the geological setting that revealed itself at Fruta del Norte. I consider the parallels between Tatasham and Fruta del Norte so far to be very compelling.”

The discovery of an epithermal system at Tatasham was unexpected, in our pursuit of a copper porphyry target indicated by geophysics. That porphyry target is still valid, but it may lie at considerable depth, or it may lie laterally. Our recent diamond drilling campaign was designed for a porphyry target and is too widely spaced for a typical epithermal target, but it very fortunately clipped the edges of what appears to be a very large system. Aurania has paused the drill program at Tatasham in order to conduct additional field work in the coming months including a ground based induced polarization (IP) survey to appropriately refine the epithermal target areas prior to additional drilling. This work is necessary to define the limit of the system, which remains open to the north, and to understand the geometry of the system.

Awacha

There appears to be a large porphyry body and possibly others at Awacha. The goal of field work here will be to define the porphyry targets in the area.

Chairman, CEO and President, Dr. Keith Barron comments, “Over the upcoming month Aurania will be engaged in basic field exploration north of the Awacha porphyry target on lands that only became accessible to the Company through a signed agreement with the local Shuar stakeholders on January 19th, 2022, prior to which we had never visited. It is suspected that more porphyry bodies exist in this area. On Awacha itself, soil sampling and field surveys are in progress. Mobile Magnetotellurics (“MobileMT”) geophysics has indicated a buried conductive body in excess of 4 x 5 kilometres in size. The anomaly has the “classic doughnut” shape of a porphyry body. The conductive anomaly coincides with copper and molybdenum stream sediment anomalies and with quartz-sericite-pyrite (“QSP”) alteration exposed in stream beds (see press release dated March 15, 2018). This is classic “phyllic” alteration seen in porphyry systems.”

Kuripan

Gold has been panned from streams that drain the target area. The streams where gold was panned drain an area in which silica veinlets that have typical epithermal characteristics, occur in volcanic tuff. Results from stream sediment sampling show that, in addition to gold and silver, the area is enriched in pathfinder elements such as naturally occurring arsenic and antimony.

Aurania’s Chairman & CEO, Dr. Keith Barron commented, “After focusing on our silver-zinc discovery in the last few press releases, I’m very pleased to report that we have an exciting new target where we’ve been able to pan gold from streams draining an area that has an epithermal signature. Furthermore, indications from the field are that this is an “intermediate-sulphidation” epithermal system – the same type of mineralization as Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte mine 100 kilometres to the south of us in the Cordillera del Condor.”

Chapter Eight – Illegal Miners With Excavators Found Near Awacha

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In January of this year, Aurania gained access to the area of “Kim” (see press release dated Feb 15, 2022) along the Rio Santiago and was alerted that there were many artisanal miners in the area. Subsequently, the Company became aware of an archived television news report from November, 2021, that discussed the presence of a sophisticated and well-funded group of “invaders” who had claim-jumped legitimately held concessions owned by the local mining cooperative. These invaders had more than 50 excavators along the river in the lower reaches (Tiwintza), east of the Aurania concessions and all the way to the Peruvian border. Since the Company had been focussed on the Awacha porphyry target, more than 80 kilometres to the north, it had been unaware of the clandestine activity. To date, the Company is not aware of any illegal activity on Aurania’s Property. The Ecuadorian military has impounded much of the heavy equipment, and most of the illegal miners have been run off.

The Rio Santiago begins at the junction of the Rio Zamora and the Rio Upano. It then flows due east and enters a narrow 600-metre-deep vertical-walled canyon with very fast water. Further to the east, the river is confined on one side or the other by vertical cliffs, and it emerges about 15 kilometres downstream into a flat area where it broadens and becomes braided. This flat area is considered a “classic” drop zone for placer gold that has been brought downstream in suspension or by saltation (bouncing and rolling along the bottom). As the water velocity drops, its carrying capacity diminishes. The excavators were mainly concentrated in this flat area.

We can speculate that 50 excavators might be yielding hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold each day of operation. Our own sampling upstream shows very abundant fine gold in the pan in every sample taken. Presuming that today’s miners are extracting only the dregs of the resource, perhaps 450 years ago the Rio Santiago was as rich as Bonanza Creek in the Klondike when first discovered. The richness of the area conforms with Governor Juan de Alderete’s account that in the first year of mining almost 30,000 pesos of gold were produced at Logroño. One peso was equal to 4.6g of “buen oro” (22.5 carat purity – Lane, 1996) making this approximately 4,100 troy ounces. A 1591 document contains one man’s report that in one week he and six other miners extracted 350 pesos (more than 1.5 kg) of gold by hand. He said under oath, “this land was the richest in gold of all the Kingdoms of Peru”.

More work needs to be performed by the Company’s technical team to find the potential source(s) of this gold. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available from the field.

Chapter Nine – Dr. Barron Provides a Loan, Directors Agree to Options in Lieu of Cash

March 18, 2022 – Aurania announces that it has entered into a US$1,187,500 million loan with Dr. Keith Barron, the Company’s Chairman, CEO and largest shareholder pursuant to a promissory note issued by the Company to the Lender as of the date hereof (the “Note”). In accordance with the terms and conditions of the Note, the Loan is due and payable and shall be repaid in full upon notice of twelve months and one day from the Lender to the Company (the “Maturity Date”), whereupon all unpaid principal and accrued interest thereunder shall be payable to the Lender. The Loan is unsecured and bears interest at a rate of two percent (2%) per annum.

The Loan has closed in advance of the anticipated closing of the Company’s non-brokered private placement of up to 2,142,857 units of the Company (each, a “Unit”) at a price of C$0.70 per Unit, for aggregate gross proceeds of up to C$1,500,000 (the “Offering”), previously announced in the Company’s news release dated February 28, 2022. The Offering is expected to close in two tranches with the first tranche expected to close shortly after the receipt of conditional approval of the Offering from the TSX Venture Exchange followed by the second tranche shortly thereafter. Under the Offering, Dr. Keith Barron has also committed to purchase 571,428 Units, being approximately C$400,000 (the “Insider Participation”).

April 12, 2023 – Aurania announces that its directors have agreed to receive their director fees in the form of stock options in lieu of cash for each quarterly period starting the quarter ended March 31, 2023, until December 31, 2023.

Each director was granted 13,392 stock options at an exercise price of $0.46 in lieu of their director fees for Q1 2023. An aggregate of 53,568 stock options were granted. The stock options will be exercisable for three years and will vest on April 12, 2023. Each quarter, the Company will grant stock options equivalent in fair value to the director fees forfeited, at an exercise price of one cent above the closing price of Aurania’s shares the day prior to the grant and exercisable at any time for a period of three years following the date of issuance.

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The Company also announces that all concession fees for its mineral properties in Ecuador have been paid, with such concessions being fully renewed and in good standing.

Chapter Ten – Aurania Adds Impressive Team Members in 2022


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April 19, 2022 – Aurania appoints Dr. Steve Garwin as a Senior Technical Advisor and retained him as a Geological Consultant. He has over 34 years of experience as an exploration geologist and is one of the leading authorities on porphyry, epithermal and Carlin style mineralization in the circum Pacific region and applies methods of structural geology and geochemistry towards gold and copper exploration.

He has previously worked with Newmont Mining for ten years, including two years as Chief Geologist in Nevada, USA. Dr. Garwin has been instrumental in the discovery of the world-class, Alpala porphyry copper-gold deposit in the Cascabel project, north-western Ecuador and the implementation of state of the art detailed mapping and logging strategies for SolGold Plc. He is also part of the team that recently discovered the Porvenir (Cacharposa) copper-gold porphyry deposit in the Cordillera del Condor in south-eastern Ecuador. He has played a leading role in the recognition and delineation of the copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry deposits at Cortadera, Chile. He has been an adjunct research fellow at the Centre for Exploration Targeting at the University of Western Australia since 2001 and was appointed a visiting fellow at the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University from 2014 to 2017. Dr. Garwin has authored and co-authored more than 40 scientific papers and abstracts.


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May 2, 2022 – Aurania announces it has retained Dr. Cristian Vallejo of Geostrat S.A. as a Geological Consultant. Dr. Vallejo is currently working in the Patuca area of Aurania’s Lost Cities-Cutucu project (the “Project”) in southeastern Ecuador. The village of Patuca is located near a small alluvial gold mine which is just on the edge and outside the Company’s concessions. This small gold mine has been actively worked since at least 2008 when it was initially examined by Aurania’s President and CEO, Dr. Keith Barron and Professor Octavio Latorre.

Dr. Vallejo is an Ecuadorian national and a Geologist with twenty-two years experience in the mining/oil industry and academia. During his PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Zurich) he worked on the geology of the Oriente Basin of Ecuador and the geodynamic evolution of the Western Cordillera of Ecuador and Colombia. In these studies, he applied field mapping, sedimentology, organic matter analysis, radiometric dating of igneous rocks, isotope geochemistry and provenance analysis.

After finishing his PhD he worked for two years as Project Manager of Salazar Resources in the Curipamba Project, being part of the team that discovered the El Domo Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide deposit (VMS), currently in the mine construction phase.

July 5, 2022

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Chapter Eleven – A Lost City Found

May 31, 2022 – Aurania reports that through a collaboration with Metron, the “lost city” of Logroño de los Caballeros has been found in Ecuador. The site considered to be the ancient gold camp is not on Aurania’s concession block, but is downstream, and is exclusively alluvial (placer) gold. No archaeology has been found. Aurania is now on the hunt to find Logroño’s source of gold within its Lost Cities – Cutucu Project (“Project”) in southeastern Ecuador. The location of Logroño, as inferred by Metron, is supported by a multitude of historical documents as well as geological information collected by Aurania and the increased presence of artisanal miners in the area.

Logroño de los Caballeros was one of seven historic mining areas operating during the time of the Spanish conquistadors in the land that became Ecuador. Its geographic location and that of a second site, Sevilla del Oro, have been lost over time. Aurania’s Project is partly based, and is named on the premise, that the two lost cities would be within Aurania’s large concession package.

Dr. Keith Barron, President and CEO of Aurania commented, “More than four hundred years have passed since Spanish activity at Logroño ceased, and even though many of the records have been lost, what survives is a compelling narrative of gold mining in what would have been one of the most remote and isolated areas on Earth. It is sad that my colleague and mentor, Professor Octavio Latorre, did not live to see the fruit of his many thousands of hours of labor in the archives. To date, we have found many epithermal gold-silver prospects on our concession package, and I believe that this key discovery can ultimately lead us to Logroño’s gold source.”

Dr. Lawrence Stone, Chief Scientist of Metron, remarked, “Metron is pleased to have helped find the historic gold city of Logroño de los Caballeros. The success of this effort is another example of the power of Bayesian search theory, which has been used to find sunken ships and aircraft as well as vessels and people missing at sea. Our success in integrating historical documents with scientific data using Bayesian methods opens a range of potential applications in the mineral and energy exploration sectors as well as archeological and anthropological arenas. We are excited that we had the opportunity to continue to expand the limits of Bayesian theory.”

Despite the preponderance of evidence, the location of ancient Logroño can never be known with absolute certainty. There will be no stone signposts, and any archeological site along the river would likely have been swept away long ago during high water or by modern mining activity. Aurania’s task now is to find the source of the gold in the Rio Santiago placers. Recent events led the Company to reinvestigate this area. Already, the Company has located a site upstream where gold can be panned in a landslide and epithermal chalcedonic quartz blocks have been found in nearby streams. The siliceous sinter “Apai,” which is a target in the southwest corner of Aurania’s concessions, is only a couple of kilometres north of the river. It is believed that dedicated and intensive geological mapping and prospecting will ultimately locate the source or sources of the alluvial gold.

Chapter Twelve – Aurania’s Final Frontier…France??

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Summary – My Personal Perspective

I have a few remaining questions that I am continuing to research and if you decide to invest in Aurania I would suggest you investigate these aspects too. At this point, it’s been difficult for me to map out Dr. Barron’s relationship with two companies, Firestone Ventures & Bambazonke Holdings but I think those are details worth knowing.

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I decided to start a small position in $AUR.V and will likely add with any positive developments. Though Aurania appears to be edging closer to an impressive discovery all the time, I question how long they will be able to finance continued exploration without a major partner brought on board. Dr. Barron has suggested that discussions are underway but given the current chaos & violence in Ecuador, majors might be looking to assess upcoming election results first (August 20th, with a runoff likely in October).

Though Aurania appears to be working hard to establish positive connections with the local community, environmental concerns regarding development in the Amazon often grab headlines (deservedly so), and that might present a battle for the company. Another Fruta del Norte would offer incredible benefits to the economy and people of Ecuador, but whether or not the negatives of the project will outweigh those factors will likely be a subject of fierce debate.

Investing in junior exploration companies is very high-risk, and Aurania might be exceptionally so. On the other hand, the reward may be too…

Please DYODD and never invest more than you can afford to lose. I’m always happy to discuss the companies I write about so please reach out with any questions you may have.



Story Links:







VIDEOS OF INTEREST

AURANIA DOCUMENTARY SERIES: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CITIES

Dr. Barron and the Aurania team decided to produce a series of documentary videos to focus on the historical and geological significance of Aurania's flagship project in Ecuador, the Lost Cities - Cutucu Project and its potential. The series was intended to show how exploration is done, the conditions the geos and other workers are working under in the field/jungle, demonstrate the work being done in the communities, so everyone could follow along with the story as it evolves.

The first episode in the series (May 26, 2017) focused on the gathering of the historical data that underscores the significance of Logroño de Los Caballeros and Sevi del Oro as centres that produced gold for the Spanish empire in the 1500’s.


The second episode, “Maps and Documents”, is available on Aurania’s website at:


Alfred Lenarciak and BreX:


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Rick Rule interviews Dr. Barron at the 2023 Rule Symposium:


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VICE News traveled to the Amazon to see what modern-day gold hunting looks like, how Ecuador is dealing with its new gold rush, and whether Barron is actually about to strike gold again.


Without the help of indigenous Shuar people, who live in and around the Amazon, Barron's team would be lost in the jungle. Watch the bonus clip of members of two Shuar members of Barron's crew talking about gold hunting in the Amazon, the impact mining has on the jungle, and how their Shuar people feel about it:


Adding intrigue to the new gold rush, Barron has spent the past decade studying old Spanish maps and documents, which reference two lost gold cities called Logroño and Sevilla de Oro. He hasn't found them yet, but he knows how the Spanish would have traveled to the general area. Watch another bonus clip where VICE News stops at the oldest church in Ecuador, which the Spanish would have visited en route to the lost cities.


For a very basic explanation of the vertical variability through an epithermal ore system watch Dr. Barron’s short lecture at:


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One of the world’s top copper experts offers his opinion on The Lost Cities Project:


I hope you enjoyed reading the story of Aurania, as much as I enjoyed researching it!

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YouTube
The Opportunity - A Copper Expert's Opinion
Ecuador's Vice-Minister of Mines, Fernando L. Benalcazar in Discussions with World-Renowned Sedimentary Copper Expert, Professor Gregor Borg.The following wa...

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