Dr. Richard Spencer reports
AURANIA ADJUSTS OPERATIONS IN RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Aurania Resources Ltd. is extracting its personnel from the field in an effort to protect their health and that of the communities in which the company works.
Situation in Ecuador
As of last night, March 17, Ecuador had reported 111 cases and two deaths from the virus. The Ecuadorean government has moved decisively by adopting many of the policies introduced in China, such as self-isolation and an aggressive limitation on movement of people, to reduce the rate of spread of new infections.
Last Sunday night (March 15), Ecuador imposed an international travel ban. As of midnight Monday night, March 16, all passenger flights, maritime and road traffic, into Ecuador were banned. This ban does not apply to cargo and commercial goods -- business continues to go on in Ecuador. Additionally, President Moreno issued a directive to limit movements of persons within the country, with a few exceptions, effective March 17. Ecuador is in lockdown mode and except for essential service personnel and health care workers, persons are encouraged to stay at home. This will be enforced by the army and the police.
Situation in the field
Aurania has translated the advisory that Ecuador's Ministry of Health has issued into the Shuar language of the local people and is distributing the document to communities in the Cordillera de Cutucu, in which the project is located. The advisory provides succinct information about the virus, how its spread can be mitigated, a list of symptoms and information about whom to contact about a suspected case.
Aurania is withdrawing its personnel from the Cordillera de Cutucu. All personnel have returned to their homes except for two field teams that were exploring very remote areas. Both of those teams are led by Shuar geologists and they are scheduled to reach their pick-up point later today. Permission has been granted by the authorities for a waiver of the travel restrictions so that these teams can be met and be transported to their homes. By the time that the local travel ban had come into effect in Ecuador yesterday, all other personnel had returned to their homes.
The company's geologists will spend the next few weeks working through a backlog of geological information from the field. They will focus on the interpretation of this information and the refinement of exploration targets for gold-silver and copper-silver. The company will be poring through seismic and well-log data from Ecuador and Peru over the next few weeks to refine its sedimentary-hosted copper-silver targeting in both countries. In addition, the company's recently completed lidar survey indicated many potential historic mining and prospecting locations on its concessions in Ecuador. These are currently being integrated with the company's airborne geophysical data, stream sediment coverage, and known mapped geology for prioritization and ground investigation. Field investigation was already under way when the company was forced by circumstances to curtail operations, and it will take very little to restart the process once it can.
The annual concession fee payments, which are due by March 31, have been made for each of the 42 concessions in the Lost Cities-Cutucu project. The President has reappointed Fernando L. Benalcazar as Vice-Minister of Mines of Ecuador -- he resumed his duties yesterday. In a phone call Mr. Benalcazar stated that his office is at the company's disposal and he will diligently resume his mission to assist responsible development of the mining resources of Ecuador.
Situation in Toronto
As recommended by the national and provincial health authorities, personnel in the company's Toronto office are working from home for the duration of this crisis so as to avoid potential exposure to the virus on public transit. Hence, the company is already complying with the terms of the state of emergency declared by the Province of Ontario yesterday morning. The office remains fully functional and it is working by remote means with its geological team in Ecuador and Peru. All company personnel, officers and directors are well and healthy; there are no cases of Covid-19 in Aurania or in EcuaSolidus SA, the company's Ecuadorean subsidiary, at this time.
About Aurania Resources Ltd.
Aurania is a mineral exploration company engaged in the identification, evaluation, acquisition and exploration of mineral property interests, with a focus on precious metals and copper. Its flagship asset, the Lost Cities-Cutucu project, is located in the Jurassic metallogenic belt in the eastern foothills of the Andes mountain range of southeastern Ecuador.
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