Southern Arc Minerals has received notice that all 80 of its prospecting rights licence applications in Northern Japan have been accepted for further review. Southern Arc has applied for the licences through its newly-formed subsidiary, Southern Arc Minerals Japan KK (SAMJ).

This application acceptance effectively reserves the application areas for SAMJ pending completion of a multi-step process of government consultation and review that may result in a decision by the Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade & Industry to grant prospecting rights licences to Southern Arc.

Further to its diversification strategy announced in December 2012, Southern Arc has been searching for resource exploration and investment opportunities in stable jurisdictions.

The Tertiary volcanic arc terrains of Japan host five one-million-plus-ounce gold and silver deposits including one of the world’s highest-grade gold mines. The Hishikari Mine on Kyushu Island has been in production since 1985 with an estimated 7.6 million ounces of gold reserves and grades averaging 40 grams/tonne.

Despite a history of significant gold production and known mineral occurrences, management considers Japan to be largely underexplored. Based on a desktop review of historical gold production and Japan’s extensive geoscientific database, Southern Arc was able to pinpoint areas that are very compelling from a geological perspective.

SAMJ lodged 38 contiguous exploration applications in Northern Hokkaido targeting high-grade epithermal gold ‘Hishikari-type’ deposits.

Subsequently, SAMJ lodged another 42 prospecting rights licence applications throughout Hokkaido and Northern Honshu targeting other prospective epithermal gold areas and areas of gold-bearing advanced argillic alteration, which could indicate the presence of a porphyry mineral environment. The combined area under application by SAMJ currently comprises 27,153 hectares over eight target areas.

Since all 80 of its prospecting rights licence applications have been accepted by the concerned prefectural government offices, SAMJ may now commence low impact forms of exploration such as mapping, surface sampling and geophysics. This will enable SAMJ to prioritize its activities and exploration budget on the most prospective areas. More advanced forms of exploration such as drilling may commence once the prospecting licences are granted.

“With a well-established regulatory framework, extensive geological database, easy access to government officials, and a stable, mining-friendly jurisdiction, Japan fits well with Southern Arc’s diversification strategy,” said the company’s chairman and CEO John Proust. “That Japan is underexplored also fits with Southern Arc’s strategy of identifying overlooked prospective areas and moving quickly to control large parcels of prospective land.

“We are pleased with our progress to date, and look forward to working closely with Japanese officials as the review process proceeds. In the interim, Southern Arc continues to keep administrative costs to a minimum to protect the company’s treasury and preserve Southern Arc’s ability to move quickly should new business opportunities arise.”

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