COMMODITY CAPERS: Here at The Roadhouse, we often hear from companies of the difficulties they encounter trying to source drilling rigs to enable them to carry out exploration.
Our curiosity landed us on the webpage for the Western Australia Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, which delivered some sobering information.
We all know WA punches above its weight in terms of the Australian economy.
According to the Department, in 2019-20, WA achieved resource sales valued at $172 billion, making it a leading global resources precinct with a substantial global share of production for major and strategic commodities.
In 2019, WA’s share of global resources production included:
59 per cent of lithium, 32 per cent of iron ore; 29 per cent of garnet; 13 per cent of LNG; 12 per cent of rare earths; 12 per cent of zircon; 11 per cent of alumina; 11 per cent of diamonds, 6 per cent of gold; 6 per cent of nickel; 5 per cent of ilmenite; 4 per cent of cobalt; and 4 per cent of salt.
Not bad for a jurisdiction that boasts just 0.03 per cent of the global population.
“Western Australian mining operators have developed this scale of production capacity with a small population base through local development of leading technology, services and equipment,” the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation said.
“Western Australia is the global leader in autonomous and remote mining operations.”
This is where things got interesting.
The department provided a quick inventory of large-scale mining equipment across the state.
To produce the above-mentioned figures the industry is currently using just over 400 operating autonomous haul trucks across iron ore and open cut gold operations with more than 150 autonomous haul trucks to be added to the fleet.
The figure that raised The Roadhouse eyebrows was that there are only 48 autonomous drilling rigs in operations at mine sites.
Little wonder then, companies are screaming for rigs at a time when money is abundant and the global thirst for commodities constantly on the rise.
To exemplify what we mean, we took a random sampling of drilling underway across the state.
KAIROS MINERALS (ASX: KAI)
Kairos Minerals has just completed a program of reverse circulation (RC) drilling at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Roe Hills project, located east of Kalgoorlie.
The drill program comprised 20 holes testing high-priority gold and nickel targets at the Caliburn, Talc Lake and Black Cat prospects.
“We’re really excited to now have this drilling program complete, with the results expected to provide an important assessment of the high-priority gold and nickel targets at Roe Hills,” Kairos Minerals executive chairman Terry Topping said.
“We expect to receive assay results within the next six to seven weeks, however visual analysis of the RC chips indicates plenty of exciting potential, particularly at the Black Cat prospect where we can see broad zones of significant sulphides.”
If you think drill rigs are in short supply, try counting the number of lab analysts that are needed to keep up with demand.
Kairos indicated it would no be waiting at least six weeks for the results of this program to hit its inbox.
Undeterred, the company is now moving the rig to its other project, the Mt York gold project in the Pilbara, where current Mineral Resources stand at 873,000 ounces of gold.
That means transporting the rig from Kalgoorlie to the Pilbara, a trek that most other jurisdictions would no doubt consider outrageous.
MOHO RESOURCES (ASX: MOH)
Moho Resources announced the commencement of diamond drilling at the Crossroads prospect, located in the WA Wheatbelt and about 22km west of the Edna May gold mine.
The Crossroads prospect is part of Moho’s Burracoppin gold project, which is subject to a 70:30 Joint venture with IGO Limited.
The four-hole coring program of approximately 600m has been designed to follow up mineralisation the company encountered in its January 2021 RC drilling program.
“Moho is again fortunate to have secured West Core Drilling to undertake our maiden diamond drilling program at the Crossroads prospect,” Moho Resources managing director Shane Sadlier said.
“We are particularly looking forward to identifying the orientation of structures controlling the gold mineralisation intersected in the recent RC drilling program, and to then apply these findings to subsequent exploration programs.”
The program is partially funded by the WA Government as part of its Exploration Incentive Scheme to test a potential Intrusive-Related Gold mineral system at the Crossroads prospect.