THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Having been kept busy sizing up one of the world’s largest undeveloped nickel-cobalt-critical minerals laterite plays in its home state of Western Australia, Ardea Resources (ASX: ARL) now looks set to devote a large portion of 2021 complementing this with a gold spin off. By Mark Fraser
While the company has had its hands full progressing the massive (not to mention long-awaited) Goongarrie base metals-scandium project some 70 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, it ended 2020 conducting further RC drilling on the nearby Zeus gold discovery, where yellow metal mineralisation has proven to be both high grade and near-surface.
Although still early days, gold intercepts like 10 metres at 12.97 grams per tonne from 42m (including 4m at 28.25g/t from 44m) and 6m at 2.07g/t (from 68m) have given the junior plenty of food for thought.
Located on the same tenure as Goongarrie, Zeus – at this stage of the game at least – represents a potential shallow gold mining opportunity.
In terms of the bigger picture, which will also involve further field activities at Lily Albany and Big Four Gold, it could well be the leader of a major new gold camp.
Sitting less than 2km to the east of Goongarrie’s 25km-long line of nickel-cobalt-scandium lateritic deposits, Zeus has been subjected to 19 drill holes varying in depth from 40-140m to test a number of targets.
They include the down-plunge and up-dip extension of Lode 1, confirmation of Lode 2 and the up-plunge, near-surface daylighting extent of Lode 2.
Additionally, historic gold anomalism – similar to that which initially highlighted Zeus’ potential – is evident around 200m to the north west.
A set of closely-spaced drill holes, similar to the prospect’s discovery program, aims to delimit gold anomalism and mineralisation distributions.
Just before Christmas the company said RC drilling at Zeus was typically rapid due to the soft, fresh nature of the chlorite schist host rocks, the shallow target depths as well as the negligible transported cover that is typically (or less than) 5m thick.
This work enabled Ardea to schedule the next RC program at the nearby Lily Albany gold discovery, where several targets will now receive the company’s attention.
These include the shallower oxide discovery zone for initial resource definition and assessment of open pit mining potential; the primary gold mineralisation immediately south of the discovery area that coincides with a suite of deep, strong demagnetisation targets; in addition to the Southeast Line of mineralisation, anomalism and demagnetisation targets which are coincident with the top of the target layered mafic-ultramafic intrusive.
This work will also test the northern Hinge Zone of gold anomalism and demagnetisation that coincides with faulted and/or folded intersection of the limbs of the layered mafic-ultramafic intrusive as well as the down-dip – and down-plunge – primary gold mineralisation throughout the areas drilled to date.
Ardea said a regularly-spaced (40m) drill-out over four 40m-spaced lines was designed to define the oxide zone resource potential throughout the discovery area.
Given the recent, “very positive metallurgical results” announced to the market towards the end of last year, the definition of shallower, oxide gold mineralisation would also help assess Lily Albany for its open pit potential.
Additionally, regularly-spaced drill holes should penetrate to fresh rock, thereby providing representative sampling of the entire weathered profile for resource modelling.
Seventeen drill holes for 2,610m will evaluate the top 130m of this profile.
Additional holes, Ardea noted, had been designed if the expansion of this program became warranted.
Should a resource be defined from this program, it was expected it would be between the base of the transported material (between 10-40m depth) and the top of the fresh rock (from 80-150m).
Diamond drilling is also scheduled for the Zeus, Lily Albany and Big Four Gold prospects to enable the full assessment of the controlling structures for gold mineralisation.
This would both ensure the drill directions were optimised and greatly assist resource estimation modelling and the targeting of gold mineralisation.
“Multiple work streams are continuing on other Ardea project areas, such as gold target generation and corporate structure for the planned gold spin out, nickel sulphide exploration drilling and down-hole electromagnetic surveys at the Binti Gossan target at Emu Lake, Kalpini, nickel sulphide target refinement at Highway, Black Range and other targets – and copper target refinement at Ghost Rocks,” Ardea Resources managing director and chief executive Andrew Penkethman explained.
“Work also continues apace in completing Ardea’s Goongarrie Line nickel-cobalt resource which will also include a maiden scandium resource component.”