THE DRILL SERGEANT: Few junior explorers can claim a list of heavyweight partners like Antipa Minerals (ASX: AZY).
Antipa Minerals first lured a big name to join its hunt for giant deposits in Western Australia’s Paterson Province in 2015 when it struck a $60 million farm-in agreement with Rio Tinto on its Citadel project.
Since then, interest in the Paterson has exploded with Rio’s Winu copper find and Greatland Gold’s Havieron gold discovery, and Antipa has lined up two more top-class partners for other parts of its extensive landholding in the region.
In February this year, Newcrest Mining, entered a farm-in agreement over 2,180 square kilometres of ground held by Antipa that surrounds its Telfer gold operation, the largest mine in the Paterson.
Newcrest, which is keen to find new sources of ore to keep Telfer running beyond 2023 when current reserves are due to run out, can earn 75 per cent of the Wilki project, as it has been dubbed, by spending $60 million over eight years.
Antipa followed up the Newcrest deal by signing a third major farm-in agreement, this time with $3 billion gold and base metals producer IGO Ltd, at the start of this month.
Under this agreement, IGO can earn a 70 per cent interest in 1,563sqkm of tenements held by Antipa by spending $30 million over 6.5 years, with a requirement to spend at least $4 million in the first 2.5 years.
While the partners have the right to pull out after reaching certain expenditure milestones as is typical in mining industry farm-ins, Antipa could ultimately be free carried for a whopping $150 million of exploration expenditure if the agreements are all seen through to their conclusions.
The company also retains 100 per cent ownership of 144sqkm of ground in the Paterson that includes established gold-copper resources at Minyari-WACA (723,340 ounces of gold and 26,390 tonnes of copper).
In conjunction with the farm-in agreements, both Newcrest and IGO took positions on the Antipa register through share placements (Newcrest 9.9%, IGO 4.9%).
These placements have ensured Antipa is well funded to continue exploration on its 100 per cent-owned ground, study development scenarios and potentially look at new opportunities.
The company listed on the ASX in 2011 with its main asset being a package of tenements in the Paterson acquired from Centaurus Metals.
At that time, the region was far from the fashionable address for mineral exploration it is today.
But there was a recognition among board and management that it had the potential to host world-class deposits such as Telfer, which had a pre-mining endowment of 32 million ounces of gold and 1 million tonnes of copper.
They went on to assemble a commanding landholding of more than 5,000sqkm by acquiring additional ground from the likes of Paladin Energy and legendary WA prospector Mark Creasy.
The strategy has proven to be prescient with recent developments.
Antipa Minerals is presenting at the M+C Partners/Vertical Events Gold ‘n Brews Seminar.
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