Azure Minerals Encounters Mineralisation at Second Andover Drill Target

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Azure Minerals (ASX: AZS) has encountered nickel and copper sulphide mineralisation at a second target on the company’s Andover nickel-copper project (60% Azure / 40% Creasy Group) in Western Australia.

Azure Minerals announced mineralisation has been observed in each of the first three diamond core holes (ANDD0009, ANDD0010 and ANDD0011) drilled at the VC-23 target.

The company explained that VC-23 comprises a high-order, yet separate and distinct group of surface fixed loop (FLTEM) and downhole (DHTEM) electromagnetic conductor plates located three kilometres northeast of the discovery VC-07 conductor.

“This is a very exciting result for Azure and highlights the potential of Andover to host multiple nickel-copper sulphide deposits,” Azure Minerals managing director Tony Rovira said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“EM surveying has identified numerous conductors indicative of bedrock-hosted sulphide mineralisation and, geologically, Andover does not appear to have any physical characteristics that may generate false positives.

“Importantly, wherever we have drilled an EM conductor at Andover we have intersected nickel-copper sulphide mineralisation and this 100 per cent hit-rate has continued with the successful drilling of the new targets at VC-23.

“While most of our drilling in 2021 will be focused on delivering a JORC mineral resource for the VC07 conductor several other significant, high-priority conductor targets have been identified and drilling of these will be tested concurrently.”






Blackstone Minerals Signs on for Ta Khoa Downstream Refining

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) improved its chances of upscaling its downstream refining business and realising its vision to become a global supplier of downstream nickel products for the Lithium-ion battery industry.

Blackstone Minerals has signed a Non-Binding Letter of Interest (LOI) with Trafigura Pte Ltd one of the largest physical commodities trading groups in the world and one of the leading physical commodities traders involved in copper, zinc, lead, nickel and cobalt trading.

The LOI relates to a potential agreement for Trafigura to supply nickel and cobalt products to Blackstone, which will supply downstream products for the Lithium-ion battery industry from the company’s Ta Khoa nickel project in Vietnam.

“We are delighted to have laid the foundations for our relationship with Trafigura, a globally significant trading company,” Blackstone Minerals managing director Scott Williamson said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“Blackstone is taking steps to become a significant global, green nickel product supplier catering to the battery market.

“We believe Vietnam is ideally situated to manufacture green nickel products, given its competitive costs, abundant supply of renewable energy and excellent infrastructure.

“In recent years, the country has demonstrated an enviable record of attracting foreign direct investment, particularly from Asian countries.

“In addition, our strategy to upscale the downstream business is particularly pertinent, given leading battery manufacturers have indicated the potential to construct battery manufactory facilities in country.

“The economic return on capital invested downstream is underpinned by superior margins achieved by producing downstream products.

“We are confident we can deliver a robust downstream processing flow sheet, enabling value to be realised from our mining inventory at Ta Khoa, as well by purchasing and subsequently refining of a range of nickel and cobalt materials.

“The purchase of third-party nickel & cobalt materials not only adds scale to the downstream business, it also adds diversification and reduces risk across the company’s portfolio of assets in Vietnam.”







Trigg Mining Confirms Lake Throssell SOP Potential

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Trigg Mining (ASX: TMG) reported encouraging initial assay results from partially completed maiden air-core drilling underway at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Lake Throssell Sulphate of Potash (SOP) project, located east of Laverton in Western Australia.

The drilling, which was confined to the northern half of the project area, has confirmed the presence of a broad palaeovalley at least 1km wide and potentially up to 3-4km wide in places.

A total of 74 brine samples collected during this first phase of drilling were submitted before Christmas for analysis, with results returning high grades of up to 11,519mg/L SOP (11.5kg/m3 ) with an average grade of 9,772mg/L SOP

The brine chemistry also suggests favorable characteristics for solar evaporation concentration and lower waste salt levels, with a low Na:K ratio and high SO4 concentration.

Air-core drilling is scheduled to recommence in late January 2021 (weather permitting), with assay results from the remainder of the drilling expected by early March.

A maiden JORC Mineral Resource Estimate is expected to be released next Quarter once the air-core drilling is complete and all results have been received and analysed.

The company has commenced work to estimate a maiden JORC Exploration Target for the Lake Throssell project, based on all available data gathered to date.

“We are pleased to have started the New Year with excellent assay results from the brine samples submitted to the laboratory prior to Christmas,” Trigg Mining managing director Keren Paterson said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“This provides the first definitive indication that we have a high-grade sulphate of potash discovery at Lake Throssell in both the surficial aquifer and the underlying palaeovalley.

“Subject to access and weather conditions, we expect to be drilling again shortly at Lake Throssell to complete the balance of the air-core program.

“In the interim, we have started work on a maiden Exploration Target and we expect to be in a position to complete our maiden JORC Inferred Mineral Resource next quarter.

“This will be the second Mineral Resource estimate for the company since listing – putting Trigg Mining on a clear path towards the development of a significant new Sulphate of Potash production hub east of Laverton in Western Australia.”







Firefly Resources Brightens on Manganese Spin Off

THE CONFERENCE CALLER: In making its case for the planned spinning off of manganese assets into a new Australian publicly-listed identity, Firefly Resources (ASX: FFR) came up with four compelling reasons for the move. By Mark Fraser

First, there has been a systematic shift in the global manganese sector over the past decade, with South Africa – the largest exporter globally – now facing significant challenges regarding logistics, labour and fiscal regimes.

Coinciding with this is the fact Australian operations are currently experiencing higher operational costs, declining head grades and/or are approaching the end of their mine lives.

In this regard, manganese head grades are also starting to decline across the board, while the carbon steel material’s demand continues to grow as a key and un-substitutable element within steel production.

Second, overlying supply-side challenges have emerged, with the uptake in lithium-ion battery utilisation significantly enhancing investor understanding of manganese’s importance.

Third, Firefly’s Oakover manganese project – which is located 85 kilometres east of Newman and some 200km south of the high-grade Woodie Woodie manganese operation in Western Australia’s East Pilbara – is uniquely positioned to capitalise on projected demand and potential supply shortfall through its planned focus on exploration and development of direct shipping ore (DSO) opportunities.

Amongst other advantages, the Firefly spin off can undertake expansion capacity through the evaluation of beneficiation processes in order to upgrade medium grade mineralisation. Furthermore, Oakover sits in a tier one mining jurisdiction that is ideally located given the short shipment time to key Asian markets.

Additionally, it already has significant resource expansion potential based on a firm targeting model.

Finally, the fourth key reason for the development is the fact the demerger would be a “win-win” for the company, allowing it to crystallise shareholder value from the non-core Oakover asset while ensuring its management had the time and resources available to remain focused on both its wholly-owned flagship Yalgoo gold project in WA’s Murchison as well as its Paterson copper-gold play, which is also in the state’s East Pilbara.

Firefly launched its maiden drilling program for Yalgoo in August last year and – during mid-December – announced it had further consolidated the asset via the acquisition of the historic high-grade City of Melbourne gold mine.

Since beginning operations in 1937, it has produced 8,500 ounces at an average grade of 14.7 grams per tonne over four years.

It was briefly opened again in 1991, but with no recorded production, before lying dormant once more until mining resumed in 2015.

As it stands the historic (non-JORC) inferred resource for the operation is 40,348 tonnes at 5.9 grams per tonne gold for 6,602 gold ounces.

It is currently functioning as a small-scale underground operation employing hand-held mining methods wherein high-grade gold is extracted from a consistent quartz “reef” narrow vein gold system.

The City of Melbourne’s mineralisation is associated with a north-south porphyry intrusive that has pushed in along a structural contact.

This is analogous to the company’s neighbouring Melville gold deposit, which has been the main focus of drilling since the Yalgoo asset was acquired.

“With the market currently ascribing little or no value to Firefly for the Oakover manganese project, this demerger represents an outstanding opportunity to release substantial value to Firefly shareholders as a stand-alone ASX-listed vehicle,” Firefly Resources managing director Simon Lawson explained.

“The demerger will enable shareholders to retain exposure to this high-quality manganese exploration and development opportunity, while also allowing Firefly management to focus its efforts on the flagship Yalgoo gold project and the drilling of our exciting Paterson Province assets in early 2021.”

Upon listing the new company – to be called Firebird Metals (ASX: FBM) – will undertake in-fill drilling of the current resource.

It will also conduct along-strike extensional drilling over an identified 4km strike, assess multiple advanced regional prospects that have undergone limited drill testing to date, evaluate additional metallurgical beneficiation testing in parallel with the assessment of DSO strategies (to potentially increase overall project scale) as well as look at consolidation opportunities within the region.

Back in 2012, JORC-compliant due diligence noted that Oakover’s manganese mineralisation appeared to be a partially regolith-controlled supergene enrichment of epigenetic manganese mineralisation of the underlying Balfour shale, where very rich (up to 55% manganese) surface layers overlie thicker deposits of layered manganese in shales of varying grade.

According to Firefly, the drill hole spacings differ only by a small degree, generally conforming to 50m along lines and 100m between them.

Drill coverage at depth is variable, with the maximum hole being 122m.

Drilling density, Firefly said, was considered appropriate at this stage of development.






Carawine Resources Looking for Oakover Makeover

THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Late last year busy exploration house Carawine Resources (ASX: CWX) further revealed its commitment to becoming a bigger force in Australia’s base and precious metals sectors. By Mark Fraser

This became evident after it announced plans to spin off a highly prospective manganese holding in its home state of Western Australia.

Just before Christmas the company executed a binding Heads of Agreement with the yet-to-be listed Black Canyon to help get its wholly-owned Oakover manganese-copper-cobalt-iron project in WA’s East Pilbara up and running.

In doing so, it will be able to concentrate more fully on its plan to develop four other key exploration assets it currently has in Victoria and WA.

Under the terms of the Oakover deal, which is still subject to regulatory approvals, Black Canyon will have exclusive rights to farm into eight granted exploration licences within the Braeside, Oakover East, Oakover West and Mt Frank tenements.

Covering about 950 square kilometres of tenure around 400km south east of Port Hedland, the aptly-named Oakover is centred on the Oakover Basin, a world class manganese province that hosts Consolidated Minerals’ Woodie Woodie manganese mine, an operation that has been producing premium grade product since the 1950s.

Boosting the project’s upside is the fact the region also has several other historic manganese mining centres in addition to numerous separate manganese and copper occurrences.

Apart from a drilling program completed in late 2018 at the Western Star copper prospect, Carawine’s work in the area to date has comprised largely of target generation activities based on reviews of historic exploration, reconnaissance-level mapping and surface sampling.

Carawine managing director David Boyd said his company’s tight focus on its high quality precious and base metals exploration opportunities at Jamieson (Victoria), as well as those at Tropicana North, within the Paterson Province and along the Fraser Range (all in WA), had effectively seen Oakover slip down the list of corporate priorities.

“We believe Oakover has significant potential for manganese discoveries and we are pleased that Black Canyon is preparing to take this opportunity,” he explained.

“If Black Canyon is successful with its ASX listing, this deal will ensure the manganese potential of the Oakover project is explored, with Carawine retaining an interest and the ability to share in the benefit of any discoveries.”

Of the four remaining projects in the junior’s portfolio, the most advanced would arguably be Jamieson and Tropicana North.

At the former, which sits near its namesake township in the north eastern Victorian Goldfields, the focus is on the search for gold-copper/zinc-gold-silver across two exploration licences that cover 120sqkm.

This tenure contains the Hill 800 gold-copper and Rhyolite Creek copper-gold and zinc-gold-silver prospects, which both sit within Cambrian-aged felsic to intermediate volcanics.

Carawine is testing the strike and dip extents of Hill 800’s mineralisation (which is currently open) and searching the region for a potential copper-gold porphyry source.

Diamond drilling at Hill 800, the company said, had been progressing well, with the second drill hole in the current program targeting the down-plunge extension of previously-intersected high grade mineralisation involving a down-hole depth of 436.2m.

A follow-up drill hole – designed to further test down-plunge from this zone – was, at the end of last year, in progress and would be completed before the rig was moved to the Rhyolite Creek prospect some 5km to the south.

Meanwhile, at the 1,800sqkm Tropicana North gold project in the emerging Tropicana region, two granted exploration licences were the subject of a joint venture between Carawine (90%) and Thunderstruck Investments (the remaining 10%), with the exploration house set to free-carry its minority partner to the completion of a bankable feasibility study – at which point Thunderstruck may elect to contribute to further expenditure or dilute its interest.

Here, aircore drilling at the Neale and Don King tenements is complete, with 80 holes drilled for 4,124m.

Further to the north at the Paterson project, which sits in the Paterson Province at the eastern edge of WA’s Pilbara Craton, Carawine has nine granted exploration licences and seven applications (five subject to ballot) over an area of about 1,500sqkm that cross 10 tenement groups.

One notable aspect about these holdings is the fact the explorer has entered into separate and robust farm-in/JVs with two mining houses – Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) – covering different properties.

Finally, there’s the Fraser Range project, which includes six granted exploration licences in five areas and is considered prospective for magmatic nickel-sulphide deposits.

Again, Carawine has formed a robust JV – this time with miner IGO (ASX: IGO).






Ardea Resources Chases Golden Zues

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.”






RareX Encounters Further Shallow Mineralisation at Trundle

THE DRILL SERGEANT: RareX Limited (ASX: REE) reported on ongoing drilling activities at the company’s Trundle gold-copper project Joint Venture, located in the Macquarie Arc of the Lachlan Fold Belt in New South Wales.

RareX received part assay results for holes TRDD011 and TRDD012 at the Trundle Park prospect that returned mineralised intervals with high-grade copper and gold zones.

TRDD011 assay results for the first 102m of 332m, including:

74m at 0.40 per cent copper and 0.37 grams per tonne gold from surface, including 42m at 0.64 per cent copper and 0.58g/t gold from 32m, including 14m at 1.69 per cent copper, and
1.39g/t gold from 58m, including 4m at 4.98 per cent copper and 3.36g/t gold from 68m; and

TRDD012 assay results for the first 220m of 581m, including:

29m at 0.1 per cent copper and 0.18g/t gold from 191m, including 2m at 0.87 per cent copper and 0.05g/t gold from 195m, and
1m at 0.09 per cent copper and 1.17g/t gold from 204m.

The company said the broad and multiple skarn horizons intersected within TRDD012 provide encouragement for expanding the footprint size potential of the at/near surface skarn system along strike and to depth.

It also noted that primary bornite, chalcopyrite, molybdenum and observations of discrete monzodiorite intrusions in TRDD012 to be providing encouragement for vectoring towards the interpreted causative porphyry system intrusive target and the current working geological model for the central Trundle Park prospect.







Impact Minerals Trumpets Red Hill Drill Intersection

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Impact Minerals (ASX: IPT) stood up to report a stand out drill intercept achieved from the Red Hill prospect at the company’s Broken Hill nickel-copper-PGM project in New South Wales.

Impact Minerals drilled hole RHIPT034 to test a soil geochemistry anomaly along the southern contact of the Red Hill chonolith, which returned:

138 metres at 0.3 grams per tonne 3PGM (Pd+Pt+Au) from surface.

This intercept included several higher-grade intercepts of:

2m at 2.3g/t 3PGE from 75m, and 12m at 1.5g/t 3PGM and 0.2 per cent copper from 103 metres, including:

2m at 2.3g/t 3PGM, 0.3 per cent copper and 0.3 per cent nickel from 109m; and

2m at 1.1g/t 3PGM and 0.2 per cent copper from 135m.

Impact explained the result has, for the first time, demonstrated that the chonolith-shaped (tube-like) ultramafic intrusion at the Red Hill body hosts substantial thicknesses of disseminated PGM+/-copper+/-nickel mineralisation close to surface.

The intercept is open at depth and this is now a priority target area for follow up drilling.

Five other holes from the 2020 drill program also encountered intercepts in the chilled margin.

The term ‘chilled margin’ refers to the contact zone between a parent intrusion and the surrounding rock.

“Follow up drilling is clearly required to test the Red Hill intrusion at depth,” Impact Minerals said in its ASX announcement.

“To help optimise drill hole locations, modelling of the magnetic response of the intrusion to determine its geometry is currently underway using the extensive magnetic susceptibility data Impact has collected during its drill programs.”








Black Cat Syndicate Confirms Scale Potential of Fingals Fortune Gold Deposit

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Black Cat Syndicate’s (ASX: BC8) confidence in the Fingals Fortune deposit, part of the company’s Kal East gold project continues to grow.

Black Cat Syndicate believes Fingals Fortune is shaping up as a potential large pit that currently remains open in all directions and at depth.

The company released details of its 2020 drilling campaigns that included extensional and infill drilling that produced results it considers to have confirmed the Fingals Fortune potential.

The results included extensional results from a deeper high-grade zone in the south that, again, highlights future underground potential.

With all results from 2020 now in, Black Cat anticipates them contributing to a new JORC 2012 Mineral Resources later in January 2021.

Better intersections from the drilling include:

2.49 metres at 12.43 grams per tonne gold from 170.11m; – extensional

5m at 6.43g/t gold from 202m; – extensional

3m at 5.76g/t gold from 65m; and – infill

4m at 4.7g/t gold from 52m. – extensional

“Fingals Fortune is shaping up as a potential large pit which remains open in all directions and at depth and is a key focus for Resource growth and scale,” Black Cat Syndicate managing director Gareth Solly said in the company’s ASX announcement.

“We are also seeing the potential for underground mining to the south where diamond drilling shows a clear mineralised structure.

“This structure runs parallel to a line of historic shafts that extend over 750 metres and form part of a 1.2 kilometres mineralised trend beyond the current Resource.

“Furthermore, extensional drilling is planned to test mineralised trends that extend 1.2 kilometres to the north-west and a 1.4 kilometres long trend to the east of Fingals Fortune.

“Work will also be undertaken around encouraging intersections at the historic tailings storage facility which may not have seen adequate sterilisation.

“We are looking for Fingals Fortune to underpin our proposed mining operations well into the future.

“A new Resource over Fingals Fortune will be released in late January 2021.

“The latest drilling supports our aim to define one million ounces of Resource and have a wholly owned processing facility with at least three years Ore Reserves ahead of it.

“The latest drilling will be included in our program of ongoing Resource upgrades and mining studies.”








Hammer Metals Claims New Copper-Gold Discovery

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Hammer Metals (ASX: HMX) claimed a new copper-gold discovery at the Trafalgar prospect on the company’s Mt Isa East Joint Venture area in Queensland.

Hammer made the discovery from drilling undertaken late 2020 at Trafalgar, with further drilling carried out on the Shadow and Even Steven South prospects.

Intercepts from two holes drilled at Trafalgar include:

55 metres at 1.12 per cent copper and 0.3 grams per tonne gold from 119m, including 16m at 1.77 per cent copper and 0.49g/t gold from 149m; and

32m at 1.04 per cent copper and 0.25g/t gold from 64m, including 6m at 2.38 per cent copper and 1.45g/t gold from 91m.

The Trafalgar prospect forms part of an extensive copper-gold soil anomaly which stretches for 2.7km with little previous exploration.

The results of this drilling will be reviewed by the Joint Venture with a view to conducting further evaluation in the next phase of exploration.