Opportunity beckons for Portugal-focused Blackheath

1st October 2013

By: Simon Rees

Creamer Media Correspondent


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TORONTO ( – Tungsten’s performance over the past several months might not be the stuff of excitement, but compared with many other metals becalmed in the pricing doldrums, it has at least been workmanlike.

For example, ferro-tungsten stood at $47.50/kg effective September 24, down by $1 from the year-to-date high of mid-July, according to

Analysts remain generally favourable towards tungsten, while investors and others in the mining industry are also voicing a growing interest. This is particularly welcome news for the tungsten-focused juniors who, like their peers in other sectors, continue to face fierce economic headwinds.   


Portugal-focused junior Blackheath Resources is certainly hoping to ride any potential upside for tungsten. It has four plays in the country: Arga, Covas, Bejanca and Borralha.

Covas is Blackheath’s flagship project, with the company earning an 85% interest from Aruvpa Minerals by investing a total of $1-million in exploration, for 70%, to be followed by the completion of a preliminary feasibility study for the remaining 15%.

The past-producing property is located about 100 km north of Porto; between 1951 and 1974 it had a reported output of 366 000 t for an average of 0.61% tungsten trioxide (WO3).

Covas was then the subject of an extensive drilling and exploration programme by the Portuguese subsidiary of Union Carbide until the late 1970s. Though not to National Instrument (NI) 43-101 standards, a historic resource of 922 900 t for 0.78% WO3 was recorded.

“Our objective right now is to expand Covas’ resources and convert the historic resource into a NI 43-101-compliant resource,” director, president and CEO James Robertson told Mining Weekly Online in a recent interview.

Results from the company’s initial 15-hole Phase 1 drill programme were unveiled on March 1. The results were encouraging, including hole CO 13-12, which intercepted 11.40 m at 1.56% WO3, and Hole CO 7-12, which intercepted 2.11% WO3 across 7.98 m.

On September 26, the company announced the start of its Phase 2 drill programme for between 1 500 m and 2 000 m. Initial holes will test the Lapa Grande target and then the Telheira area. Further drilling will explore new expansion potential at the Castelo, Muito Seco and Cerdeirinha targets.


On August 20, the company announced it had been granted an experimental mining licence for Covas.

“In Portugal you start life with an exploration licence. From there, you can either apply for a mining permit, which requires environmental studies and feasibility studies to have been completed, or you can seek a preliminary exploitation or experimental permit,” Robertson said.

“[An experimental licence] gives us the opportunity to continue our exploration and development over three years that can then be extended another two years. At some point during this period we expect to complete a feasibility study and go for a mining permit,” he said.

Portugal was extremely favourable jurisdiction for mining and Blackheath has firm ties with the government at both local and national levels, Robertson said.

“These sort of relationships [are critical] and cannot be developed spontaneously; they have to be developed over time,” he added.

“The Portuguese government has enough faith in what we’ve done in the past and what we and our associates are doing now. We have excellent working relationships within Portugal; the country is 200% to 300% better compared with many other jurisdictions,” he said.

Portugal also views mining as a key source of job and wealth creation. “The Portuguese government has said it sees mining and development of the country’s mineral resources as a key route for helping them out of the current [economic] situation they’re currently in,” Robertson said.

“With this mandate, [the government] seeks to provide as much assistance as possible to companies trying to explore and develop mineral opportunities in the country,” he added.

Community relations with those living near the company’s projects are also strong; local people point to a strong mining heritage that they were immensely proud of, Robertson said.  

“I’ll give an illustrative example. After securing our interest in Bejanca I was sent a local television news clip featuring an interview with three or four gentlemen who all had big smiles on their faces. They were delighted that people were coming back to reassess the potential of the Bejanca mine,” he said.

“All of our projects, plus the additional projects we are looking at, are past operating mines. They all have communities around them that understand and know mining. Indeed, mining is an important part of their family histories, so people are extremely supportive,” he added.


Current conditions are tough for all juniors, Robertson recognised. “There’s no question that junior resource companies are facing challenges, which many might not be able to meet; some will be extremely fortunate to get [further] funding,” he said.

“But we’re fortunate in that we have the funds available for our planned programmes,” he stressed. “The company has a good shareholder base [and] we feel that we have some special opportunities to move forward with funding.”

“There are people who have expressed an interest in putting money into the company and, incidentally, our last financing in February was at $0.35,” he said. “[Plus,] we have a low market capitalisation that leaves a lot of opportunity for investors moving forward.”

Blackheath will continue increasing its Portuguese presence. “We have a couple of other [projects] in our sights … Our broad intention is to become the dominant holder of past-producing tungsten mines in Portugal, which we are well on our way to achieving,” Robertson said.

“We feel confident the company, its projects and its team of people have opportunities that could lead to tremendous growth over the next few years,” he added.

Edited by Henry Lazenby
Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America


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