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HomeBusinessNSW's East Lachlan region putting itself on the map

NSW’s East Lachlan region putting itself on the map

Quietly it’s become one of the hottest addresses in Australian mining for large, low-grade gold, copper and, occasionally, molybdenum.

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Located in the central west of NSW, it boasts several world-scale mines and now confirmation of least two major prospects that could end up among the biggest of the lot.

It’s the East Lachlan gold province in and around Orange, Molong and Narromine in central western NSW.

It already hosts Newcrest’s giant Cadia gold copper operation, Evolution’s Cowal gold copper mine, Alkane’s Tomingley gold mine and the North Parkes Mines gold copper mine that’s owned by Chinese and Japanese interests.

The existing mines of Northparkes, Cadia and Cowl, plus Tomingley have identified resources of more than 12 million tonnes of copper and nearly 70 million ounces of gold.

The main mining method for the underground operations like Northparkes and Cadia is block caving. Northparkes has been operating for more than 30 years. Cadia has been operating for more than 24 years

Magmatic says that “Hosting porphyry copper-gold, the area has a different type of mineralisation to most Australian gold projects, with it representing similar mineralisation to the Chilean Andean belt in South America and the Indo Pacific belt that stretches from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia.”

The successes of Newcrest at Cadia, Evolution at Cowal and Alkane at Tomingley has encouraged others into the region to explore, as well as existing miners looking to expand their existing footprints.

Alkane popped up in 2019 with the first of some interesting intersections and assays at its emerging Boda and later, Kaiser gold copper prospects that quickly became confirmed discoveries.

Alkane said in May that Boda had an inferred resource of more than 620 million tonnes with a gold equivalent (consisting ofr gold, copper and silver) cut off 0.03 grams to the tonne for an estimated resource of 10.1 million ounces. (Making it roughly the size, at the moment) of the still evolving Mallina-Hemi finds of De Grey Mining in the WA Pilbara.

The first strike at Boda reported in 2019 by Alkane was 502 metres from 211 metres and work has stepped up since then. In October of this year, Alkane reported more interest at drilling program at the Company’s Northern Molong Porphyry Project in Central New South Wales. The program extends over three kilometres from Kaiser, through Korridor and Boda, down to Boda Two and Boda Three.

“The Company believes this system has the potential to be a large, tier 1 project,” Alkane said. One hole from the Korridor area of the prospect reported 1.041 kilometres long 0.57g/t AuEq (0.32g/t Au, 0.17% Cu) from 698 metres.

But this week confirmation of a second massive low-grade strike in the area from tiddler miner, Magmatic Resources which updated the market on its emerging Myall prospect 25 kilometres southwest of Narromine and 60 kilometres along the like of strike from the Northparkes mine owned by China Molybdenum/Sumitomo.

This mine currently has a total reserve and resource of 607 million tonnes at 0.55% copper and 0,21 grams of gold to the tonne.

Magmatic and Alkane (from above) seem to have their hands on similar prospects.

Magmatic told the ASX this week that it has been “targeting similar Northparkes-style mineralisation and grades. Diamond drilling has now been under way at the site for four months, with very strong results delivered from multiple holes at the Corvette Prospect.”

Magmatic said new drill hole at a prospect called Corvette had produced “impressive new assay results.

Magmatic said in a previous update on the drilling progress at Corvette on November 27 this year “the Company reported that the second full hole of the 2022 Myall drilling program, (22MYDD416), had returned another very large mineralised interval of 413.4 metres at 0.26% Copper, 0.08g/t of gold & 21 parts per million (ppm) Molybdenum (Mo) from the base of cover, following up the exceptional results from the first full hole, (22MYDD415), of 722.5 metres at 0.25% Cu, 0.05g/t Au & 14ppm Mo from the base of cover.”

“The latest results have now produced three consecutive copper-gold-molybdenum mineralised intersections (22MYDD415, 416 & 417) that exceed 400 metres in length – a clear indicator of the potential size of the system at Corvette – with very encouraging initial results also returned from 22MYDD418,” Magmatic told the ASX.

“Every one of the five holes with assays returned (inclusive of abandoned hole 22MYDD414) have also intercepted strong mineralisation that begins immediately below the base of cover, extending the shallow high-grade zone to at least 130 metres along a north-south trend.

“22MYDD419 is the most recent diamond hole drilled at the Myall project, completed yesterday (November 28) at a depth of 885.9 metres down hole, and testing a structural, basement geochemical and geophysical target zone possibly related to extensions of both the Kingswood and Corvette Prospects. Logging and cutting of this hole have now commenced, with results expected either late in December or early in the new year,” the company said.

“Improved weather conditions at the site have seen drilling rates return to normal over the last fortnight, with over 4,500 metres of drilling now completed for the 2022 Myall program.”

 Magmatic CEO Dr. Adam McKinnon said in this week’s statement

“The results we are seeing delivered from each hole at the Corvette Prospect are, quite simply, stunning. We have now returned three consecutive +400 metre copper-gold-molybdenum intervals from our first three full holes, which highlights the potentially vast volumes of highly mineralised rock in the Corvette system.

“In addition to the width of these intersections, all five holes we’ve drilled at Corvette so far have hit strong mineralisation immediately below the cover and this shallow high-grade zone now extends out to 130 metres along a north south trend.

“With the weather improving at the site over the last fortnight, we’ve been able to construct an additional pad further south, allowing us to continue drilling a zone that remains poorly tested in every direction,” Dr McKinnon wrote this week.

Another thought comes to mind: if small explorers like Alkane and Magmatic have been able to find huge deposits of enormous potential literally from under the noses of giants like Evolution, Newcrest and the Northparkes owners, what are the giants sitting on in and around their existing mines?

Normally, you’d expect the Alkane and Magmatic discoveries to be eventually picked up by an existing miner to maintain its position in the area and guarantee the future of their operations but if they already have enormous riches, these unproven at the moment resources might attract an interloper or two.

Certainly Magmatic is a tiny – a market value of just over $29 million – which would be an easy bite for a major or mini-major wanting to acquire resources for the future.

Alkane is more expensive – $395 million – but still a mere morsel for a big player wanting a lot of future gold, copper, and some silver.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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