THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Two Western Australian-based gold focused companies – one a sibling miner and the other an exploration house – are concentrating their field efforts in areas which in the past have yielded some monster discoveries, but nevertheless remained relatively under-explored. By Mark Fraser
In the case of Matsa Resources (ASX: MAT), the focus is on the Lake Carey district in the Laverton region of WA’s Eastern Goldfields, the home of the world class Granny Smith, Wallaby and Sunrise Dam gold mines.
Meanwhile, Prodigy Gold (ASX: PRX) has a significant land holding predominantly in the Northern Territory part of the Tanami Desert, where the 14.2 million gold ounce Callie mine is living proof that this is one of Australia’s most prospective exploration jurisdictions.
Matsa holds 563 square kilometres of real estate and has already generated surplus cash via mining – with the assistance of an ore purchase agreement with Sunrise Dam owner AngloGold Ashanti – at its Red Dog, Red October and Fortitude deposits.
Prodigy Gold, on the other hand, controls some 30,000 square kilometres of real estate, in which it has wholly-owned field projects as well as a number of joint ventures, with two of its partners being Australia’s biggest domestically-owned gold producer Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) and the US giant Newmont Goldcorp (NYSC: NEM).
During the recent RIU Explorers Conference in Fremantle, both outfits indicated they had not only been keeping busy during 2019, but were now looking to implement active agendas over the next 12 months.
Matsa executive chairman Paul Poli said his company would continue mining at Red October, bring Fortitude’s stage two operations into place, start mining studies for its Devon deposit and continue drilling at the Fortitude North, Devon and Olympic prospects.
Located about 32 kilometres south-south east of Leonora, the 550 metre deep, narrow veined and structurally-controlled Red October has historically produced around 342,000 ounces of gold from ore averaging six grams per tonne.
As it stands it currently has total indicated and inferred resources of 446,000 tonnes at 6.9g/t for 99,000 ounces, with some 85,000 ouncees of this, at the higher grade of 13.6g/t, being underground.
The deposit also has significant exploration upside, with diamond drilling returning numbers at the Red October Shear Zone like 1.6m at 36.9g/t, 4.32m at 16.3g/t, 2.84m at 15.95g/t and 6.3m at 4.54g/t as well as bonanza grades from the North Decline of 0.91m at 181.5g/t, 1.33m at 40.1g/t and 0.8m at 248g/t .
Between July last year – when the mining of ore started at Red October – and January 2020, Matsa has been building its bank balance via the production of almost 2,600 ounces from 19,912 tonnes of dirt grading some 4.54g/t.
In addition, it generated a $5.4 million cash surplus at its Red Dog mine to the south as well as another $700,000 from the Fortitude trial mine.
Earlier this year Matsa told the market its Fortitude stage two due diligence indicated the company could establish a 54,400 ounce gold operation for $6.6 million to generate a $21.8 million cash surplus over 22 months at an operating cash cost of $1,682 per ounce (assuming an average Australian gold price of $2,150/oz).
Poli suggested this was all possible because of his company’s arrangement with AngloGold Ashanti.
“We’ve got a terrific relationship through a memorandum of understanding that we signed about 18 months ago,” he said.
“But more importantly they are sponsoring us – they are incubating us, assisting us in achieving our goals.
“At Red October we have a five year ore purchase agreement in place … so we’ve got 4.5 odd years of ore delivery agreement in place.
“It’s a fantastic agreement that we have got (and) we are fully exposed to the rising gold price.”
Although the Laverton district was home to some of Australia’s biggest gold mines, Poli suggested that Lake Carey, which sits within the Laverton tectonic zone, still had plenty of exploration upside.
“We think this is a fantastic area to explore,” he told RIU delegates.
“We know that this has been quite poorly explored because of the lake that occupies a fair bit of our ground.
“Last November we embarked on quite a sizeable drill program and that drill program is still continuing today.”
During his RIU presentation, Prodigy Gold managing director Matt Briggs also indicated 2020 would be a busy year in the field for the junior.
The company is aggressively exploring four wholly-owned projects – Bluebrush, Hyperion, Tregony and North Arunta – that sit in the same corridor as the lucrative Callie operation owned by Newmont Goldcorp.
So far Prodigy Gold has established an indicated and inferred resource of 15.7 million tonnes at 2g/t for 1.1 million ounces gold, with 4.93 million tonnes at 1.96g/t for 310,000 ounces being at the Hyperion and Seuss prospects.
It may also on the brink of significantly adding to this inventory via its three Joint Ventures with a trio of successful mining houses.
Newcrest is looking to spend $12 million to earn 75 per cent of Euro, where aircore drilling of large scale targets is anticipated for 2020.
Last year the RC rig returned gold intercepts of 2m at 12g/t, 8m at 1.9g/t and 36m at 0.65g/t – with this latter intersection including 20m at 0.95g/t.
So far, the JV partners have defined a 1.4km long gold-in-oxide target.
Meanwhile, Newmont Goldcorp is also looking to pump $12 million into the ground at Tobruk, which sits just 6km south west of its 500,000 ounces per annum Callie mine.
Under the terms of the JV agreement, the gold giant will earn 70 per cent of the project and pay a further $1.5 million at sign on and an additional $1 million if it elects to proceed to the second phase of the project’s development.
At the time of Brigg’s RIU presentation, some 675 soil samples had been gathered from Tobruk for testing.
The junior’s other significant JV is with the Australia mining house Independence Group (ASX: IGO) at Lake Mackay, where RC and diamond drilling is set to test deeper base metal targets during the first half of 2020.
Aside from gold, the project area has also revealed signs of copper, cobalt, manganese and nickel.
Briggs told RIU delegates that the Tanami Desert contained “great prospective ground” with the potential for “major discoveries to be made in that part of the world”.
“Of the 15 deposits that have been discovered in the Tanami, 13 of them stick out of the ground and were predominantly discovered with soil sampling,” he noted.
“In spite of those discoveries with soil sampling, (there has been) very limited bedrock drilling.
Brigg’s said Prodigy Gold’s strategy was to keep the shallower exploration ground for itself and to JV “earlier stage exploration, exploration under cover, and other commodities” to the right partners.