ONE OFF THE WOOD: Goldminex is something of a curiosity in that it is an ASX-listed gold exploration play with an international focus that isn’t actually exploring in Africa.
The company’s chief executive officer Sandy Moyle pulled up a stool at the bar this week to tell us why.
Instead of Africa Goldminex has chosen to focus its exploration endeavours in Papua New Guinea, why?
We view PNG as a highly-prospective country. It is situated on the Pacific margin and is host to numerous documented gold deposits and large, well-performing gold and porphyry gold-copper mines.
The country is a proven destination for porphyry copper-gold deposits and, when Goldminex was looking at possible exploration destinations, PNG was an area where it was possible to acquire a large tract of prospective land.
That was in the mid-2000s when PNG wasn’t particularly flavour of the month with potential exploration plays.
Subsequently that attitude has changed with new discoveries and rising commodity prices so it is very difficult to find any free ground there at the moment.
Why would companies have been shy about heading to such a renowned mining destination?
I think was probably the low commodity prices at the time. It can be an expensive place to conduct exploration.
However, having said that, I still consider PNG to provide good bang for your exploration buck.
It’s not as if the country has been flogged to death and there is certainly a lot more near surface prospectivity than what you will find in Australia.
What differentiates PNG prospectivity from Australian?
Primarily the size of the deposit that can be located. The prospectivity to find a large economic deposit in PNG is very good.
That probably explains why you describe PNG in one of your presentations as elephant country. So how is the Goldminex elephant hunt progressing?
In PNG we have exploration licences in two areas covering approximately 10,700 square kilometres.
Our main area of focus is in the Owen Stanley Ranges region, which is a conglomerate of tenements, some of which are held 100 per cent by Goldminex while the others are incorporated in the a farm-in agreement with Vale.
Our other area of interest is the Awari project in the East Sepik Provice.
We have outlined several key projects in the Owen Stanley region, of which the Liamu porphyry copper-gold project is the most advanced.
The Liamu project lies within the Vale farm-in agreement area
The Liamu intrusive complex covers an area of around 35 square kilometres and soil sampling has revealed eleven square kilometres of highly-anomalous copper or gold geochemistry.
We are currently in the middle of a 4000 metre, deep diamond drilling program testing several of the eleven prospects that lie within the Liamu project.
What is the agreement with Vale?
Vale is spending $20 million to earn 51 per cent of the project. That’s a good indication of the value and the prospectivity of our Owen Stanley region tenements.
To attract a partner of the likes of Vale demonstrates it must hold some potential?
To a point, yes; but we were fairly selective when it came to deliberating in regard to suitable partners.
We had several offers from other interested parties but considered Vale’s to be the best match for us.
Their terms were reasonable and they have retained us as on-ground operators due to our good PNG exploration capability and infrastructure set up in Port Moresby.
To what stage have you progressed Liamu so far?
All the regional work has been completed there, including detailed mapping, sampling, and an airborne magnetic and radiometric survey.
This has highlighted some geophysical and geochemical targets. Vale’s approach is to conduct some targeted drilling primarily based on geophysics, geology and some geochemistry to try and define a third dimension on the porphyry system.
We have identified 11 prospects within the Liamu project and this current activity is only testing around five of them.
At the same time work is also ongoing on at the other targets in order to advance them.
Liamu is obviously the elephant that is leading the Goldminex parade, what other elephants are following up behind?
We have 19 other targets located within the agreement area and outside it.
Within the area, the targets we have been pursuing include Sibium, Wavera and Ubei, however, Vale are keener on moving onto some of our regional targets.
How are you funding all this activity?
The Vale budget for this year is around $7 million for the farm-in area. Our Goldminex activities budget is around $3 million.
We recently completed a capital raising for $3.4 million and that will fund this year’s budget as well as some of next year’s.
We also currently have some $3 million cash in the bank taking our total up to around $6 million.
One of the benefits of the agreement with Vale is that it allows us to split the overall logistics and operating costs proportionally to the on-ground exploration -activities conducted in the Vale agreement area and the 100 per cent-owned Goldminex area.
Where has the bulk of your exploration activity been carried out?
Last year most of the key areas of activity were located within the Vale farm-in agreement area.
This year, within the Vale farm-in agreement area, in addition to advancing the Liamu project, we are investigating other targets and have conducted a ZTEM airborne geophysics survey. Goldminex is exploring sulphide nickel prospects in its own right.
Externally to that we have two main exploration licences within the Owen Stanley project that are 100 per cent-owned by Goldminex.
Each of these has six key porphyry copper-gold or epithermal gold targets. We will be exploring several of them this year.
You haven’t mentioned the deal you managed to cut regarding the project’s nickel rights?
Goldminex has retained 100 per cent of the nickel rights within the area covered by the agreement.
Was Vale only interested in the copper-gold rights?
Not exactly; when we looked at farming out this area, we deliberately retained the rights for the nickel, primarily to get the best deal for our shareholders.
As one of the largest nickel producers in the world, Vale was a bit shaken by the fact we were retaining the nickel for ourselves.
Obviously they will be keeping a pretty good eye on our progress on that front, especially if we come across something big.
Does the agreement hold synergies that benefit both companies?
The synergies that exist are quite substantial.
Vale is primarily in PNG seeking a large porphyry copper – gold deposit.
We have retained the right contribute or dilute on a program by program basis once Vale has achieved 51 per cent.
We also negotiated the right to pursue small gold targets that emerge from regional work carried out.
Vale hold the right to buy back up to 49 per cent interest in those precious metal projects for three times exploration costs once we reach a 2 million ounce gold equivalent JORC Resource.
We would retain the right to operate those projects even if the buy-back was elected because of our retained 51 per cent.
What’s happening at the Awari project while all this is happening at Owen Stanley?
We see the Awari project to be an opportunity to bring in another partner in order to advance the encouraging discoveries to-date.
We are reasonably advanced in discussions with another party regarding that opportunity.