Explaurum's golden triple

Explaurum Ltd (ASX: EXU) has an exciting exploration story to tell about its 90%-owned gold deposit, near Narembeen in Western Australia’s wheatbelt. Ngaire McDiarmid reports

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Diamond drilling crew in operation

The time has come for the Tampia gold project to shine.

The high-grade gold exploration project already had a 310,000 ounce JORC resource virtually sticking out of the ground in the middle of WA’s wheat-growing region.

Then in June, the exploration target area tripled to 1.3km long and 950m wide, thanks to high-grade drilling results including 5m at 7.62g/t gold and 5m at 10.42g/t gold, 500m west and 500m north respectively of the existing resource. 

The Gault deposit contains an established 2012 JORC inferred resource of 4.7 million tonnes at 2g/t gold for 310,000 ounces, including a higher grade area of 1.6 million tonnes at 3.4g/t gold, based only on historic drilling.

New drilling in the “starter pit” area at the end of 2015 struck significant mineralisation including 7m at 30.1g/t gold and 5m at 21.5g/t gold. 

These results are feeding into an advanced scoping study, due out in August, that is focused on the potential of a shallow, high-grade “starter pit” to generate cash flow through toll treatment options at existing gold operations within haulage distance.

The study will be a welcome insight into the potential for development options, highlighting the potential for Tampia to be in production much sooner than many peers.

Explaurum’s managing director John Lawton has long believed in Tampia’s potential and brought it to Explaurum via the unlisted public company Auzex Exploration, with which it successfully merged in September 2015.

“Tampia is an exciting gold exploration story which is just coming to light,” Lawton said. 

“A high-grade and shallow resource such as Tampia in which mineralisation is open in all directions is not common in Australia today.

“The acquisition of the project by Explaurum has really given us the impetus and momentum to progress exploration on a much faster basis.” 

The company raised almost A$1 million in an over-subscribed share placement in April to progress a potential project starter pit zone at Tampia that could be toll treated at nearby ore-hungry plants.

“The market has changed significantly since the beginning of this year – there’s much more interest particularly in gold and investors are much keener to see the potential scale of this project,” Lawton said.

Explaurum has a two-pronged approach to Tampia’s development – updating and upgrading the known resource and exploring the 12km-long zone of anomalous gold in soils for further upside.

“The area of the resource has potentially tripled in area to approximately 130 hectares as a result of the last drilling program with widely spaced high grade intercepts,” he said.

The average historical drilling depth at the project was only 40m and Lawton said a gravity survey conducted earlier in 2016 had given the company a greater understanding of Tampia’s potential.

“That gravity work gives us scope to expand our exploration effort to at least a 4km range from the known resource,” he said. 

“We’re drilling in completely unexplored areas, getting intercepts that no one has come anywhere near previously. 

“The upside potential is open from an exploration perspective and that’s exciting as far as the market in concerned.”

Aside from the exploration efforts beyond the known resource, Lawton is keen to see the results of the scoping study that will focus on the “starter pit” which could generate cash through toll treatment.

“There’s plenty of upside as we see it,” Lawton said.

“Our work at the moment is focused on establishing the scope and scale of the project, so it’s really exciting times.”

Explaurum divested its Queensland and New South Wales prospects late in 2015 to turn its full attention to developing Tampia.

“Tampia is very much our focus and I think the market appreciates that sort of focus as well,” Lawton said.

“It’s a pretty straightforward story – it’s an exciting project and with a new feel for gold that there is around the market, we’re obviously one of the projects the market is really interested in understanding and following.”

Interestingly, just as the company’s exploration target has tripled, so too has its share price in the six months to early June.

“We hope to build on that,” Lawton said.

“We’re an explorer that’s not high on the radar of the market generally and in the view of some brokers is trading at a share price which is at a discount to our peers.

“But we are getting known and benefiting from an increase in our market cap and the people who are aware of us are following with real interest.”

Explaurum owns 100% of the bulk of the project area, and 90% of the two mining leases covering the Gault deposit. Explaurum is free-carrying the minor party to the completion of a feasibility study.

The Tampia gold project is next to the small town of Narambeen, about 300km south-east of Perth, Western Australia.

It is on private land close to sealed roads, power, water, accommodation, services and labour.

Lawton said there is considerable community support for the project.

“We’ve made it clear that we’ll be drawing on the local community as much as possible if and when the project develops,” he said.

“The scoping study will provide process design options, resource estimation and mine design, baseline environmental studies, heritage and groundwater studies in what is really quite a new area as far as mineral exploration goes,” Lawton said.

“Our current resource is over 300,000 ounces but that doesn’t include drilling data from any of the drilling we’ve completed. The resource will be updated as part of the scoping study.

“Our understanding of the resource – it’s structure and metallurgy – has increased dramatically with our exploration efforts, and we want to increase the confidence level in the resource then establish an ore reserve.

“The scoping study will determine the best way we can optimise profitability for our project and our shareholders.”

Lawton noted it was a perfect time to progress a precious metals project, given the uncertain times in the market prompted by Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, which has pushed up the Australian dollar gold price.

“All resources are showing a bit of an uptick but I don’t think you should have any doubt about the future for gold,” he said.

“I think gold is a great commodity to be in.”

Explaurum is now set to benefit from the golden trifecta of market interest, a strong gold environment and continuing exploration success at both its resource and beyond.

Lawton said the market now had a greater appetite for quality exploration stories and Explaurum was keen to deliver.

“Although the project was discovered a generation ago and missed the last gold bull market, our technical understanding of the project now has given the project a new lease of life to the point where we can see the project’s potential exceeding 1 million ounces, the cost of discovery of additional gold being low, and building on a resource where people can see development happening in the not too distant future,” he said.

“We see Tampia as a potential low cost operation, and given that it’s shallow and high grade, that’s a reasonable expectation.

“So really, it’s now onward and upward in establishing what this project can deliver.”

Explaurum – at a glance

HEAD OFFICE: Unit 101, Park at Waterfront, 27 Cunningham Street, Newstead, QLD 4006

GPO Box 3249, Brisbane QLD 4001

Ph: +61 7 3333 2722

Email: info@explaurum.com

Web: www.explaurum.com

DIRECTORS: Chris Baker, John Lawton, Mark Calderwood, Stephen Stroud.



MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS: Misty Grange Pty Ltd (9.08%), Jervois Mining Limited (4%), Mr Kieran Slee (3.44%), J P Morgan Nominees Australia Limited (2.80%), HSBC Custody Nominees (Australia) Limited (2.69%)