GoldQuest commenced exploration in the Dominican Republic in May 2001. Why has a Canadian company decided to locate its operations here?
Historically, the strong potential for gold on the island has been well known. For example, Pueblo Viejo, the largest gold mine in Latin America, was known about during colonial times. Hence, there is a history of sizable gold production here. This means that the Dominican Republic is attractive for anyone keen on gold exploration work, including ourselves. Initially we came here based on Pueblo Viejo, the well-known deposit. But on top of that there were other smaller deposits, and GoldQuest decided it was a good time and place to do some exploration. We came and initiated regional exploration in a totally new area, which is the southern part of the Cordillera Central. Most of the deposits I am talking about are in the northern part of the Cordillera Central. We recognized that the rock in the southern part of the Cordillera Central was similar to that in the northern section, but no one was looking there at the time. Therefore, we were the group to initiate exploration. A discovery is a rarity in geology and mining, and usually follows after several years of exploration. Therefore, we were initially undertaking highly regionalized work. We did not invest or explore significantly until 2010 when we decided to probe deeper into those areas where we found anomalies. In 2012 we made a major discovery, whereby we became the most successful junior company in the world that year. We believe there is huge potential in the Dominican Republic and Haiti for mineral exploration and development. In my opinion, the minerals that are the most important so far are copper and gold, although there is also silver and zinc present. I would say those four metals could hold the greatest potential for the island in the future. But this will require considerable exploration by us and the many other companies that will likely enter the market in the future.
Can you explain the current technology used at your Romero and Tireo projects? What future innovations do you foresee?
We are using what we consider to be state of the art technology. When we made the discovery in 2012 we had minimal funds available, but we were fortunate. At that time we became the company of choice for investors; they invested substantially in our company and we decided to utilize the most effective technology. We have a substantial area of land, at 20,000 hectares, and until 2012 we had only explored 10% of it. This meant that we knew nothing about the balance of the property. In order to undertake effective exploration work we had to resort to techniques that help investigate large areas rapidly, which are extremely expensive, and we opted for an airborne survey. This meant using a helicopter with the relevant instrument to fly over the property, rather than doing the task on foot. The survey gives you an indication of whether or not there is potential mineralization. We chose a new Canadian system, which is able to look at the earth's profile to considerable depth, whilst showing fine detail. In addition to the airborne survey we do ground surveying; this means traditional mapping, and we still have to perform the sampling and drilling. This is basically what we are using; all the technology available to focus on mineral deposits.
How does GoldQuest incorporate social responsibility into its mining projects in the Dominican Republic?
Mining has to be integrated into society and has to be conducted with a high level of responsibility for the people living in the area. We are carrying out all activities required to protect the environment. For example, we have been carrying out water sampling work for almost a year and a half because we want to build enough information so that when we apply for the environmental permit we have sufficient proof, historically, that we have been taking care in our exploration work and measuring every aspect. At the same time we want to prove that if we operate the mine we will never contaminate it. So in other words, the water that we are measuring is extremely clean. The other factor is that the communities where we work are normally poor. Health and education are the basic requirements at the moment. For this reason, we built a school in the community and we assist the government in paying for the teaching staff. We also assist with adult education in efforts against illiteracy. Meanwhile, we also provide two scholarships to locals to go to Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), which is the only university in the country to offer geology as a discipline. These students will hopefully return to their community to work upon graduation. Furthermore, there was no health unit in the area we operate in, so we created one for the benefit of both the community, and our own staff. We offer comprehensive healthcare and security for workers and their families.