2017 will go down as a highly successful year for Queensland-based Metal Bank. The ASX-listed mining junior is advancing a succession of near surface high-grade discoveries at its flagship Triumph gold project in Southeast Queensland. Under a highly experienced management team led by chair Inés Scotland, a legendary mining executive and founder of Citadel Resource Group, Metal Bank has been able to attract healthy sums of capital to fund exploration stage activity. After the success of the last 12 months, this explorer is ready to further build its story through definition of near-surface high-grade gold resources to support a mining operation comprised of multiple open pits at Triumph. RGN speaks to managing director Tony Schreck.
The Triumph project
“Exploration success over the past 12 months has now intersected high-grade gold mineralisation on four main targets with excellent scope to expand that further with the current drilling programme,” reveals Schreck.
“Those high-grade intersections are really driving our confidence of putting out a maiden resource figure in the middle of next year, with the aim of developing multiple shallow open pits into a mining operation.”
While the last year has seen a definite acceleration in terms of good news coming out of the Triumph project, this fruitful period has largely been a function of four years of exploration discovery success across the project with drilling only really just starting to test the pipeline of new targets revealing near surface high-grade gold mineralisation and also bulk tonnage gold potential.
Schreck and exploration manager Trevor Wright were both instrumental in putting the Queensland gold projects together and have built a highly competent team which specialises in discovery.
An important part of the team’s recent work has centred on demonstrating a compelling link between the near surface high-grade mineralisation discoveries at Triumph with bulk tonnage style gold-copper-molybdenite mineralisation.
Similar examples of these bulk tonnage style systems in Queensland include the Kidston (3.7Moz Au), Mt Leyshon (3.5Moz Au) and Ravenswood (3Moz Au) mines.
Drilling programmes have taken place on four targets so far across the 15km² gold system, all of which have produced enticing drill intersections. For example, drill intercepts at the Bald Hill prospect returned a result of 15 metres @ 10.3g/t Au from a depth of 9 metres.
Meanwhile, New Constitution produced intercepts of 10 metres @ 26.9g/t Au from 51 metres, Big Hans delivered 18 metres @ 4g/t Au from surface and Super Hans returned 3 metres @ 6.5g/t Au from 6 metres depth.
Metal Bank has a cash balance of $5.5 million following the completion of a rights issue and share placement, providing the company a strong financial basis to build on these intercepts with further drilling targeting a maiden resource for the project.
2017/18 drilling programme
“We have 5,000 metres of drilling planned over December and January,” says Schreck. “We expect that initial results will be released from early 2018 with the primary focus on advancing the existing near surface high-grade gold targets and to commence initial drilling on other targets in the existing prospect pipeline.”
A large portion of the drilling will take place at Big Hans and Super Hans, which have only received limited drilling so far, with further infill drilling to be pursued at New Constitution, where known mineralisation extends over a surface distance of greater than 250 metres and to a depth of over 150 metres.
At Bald Hill, Metal Bank has already been able to show there is 2.4km of strike on the mineralised structure with just 400 metres of this zone drill tested to date, so the programme there will look to extend the known mineralisation along that strike distance.
Metal Bank will also work on a fifth target named Advance, which has only just had soils completed to date, however Schreck says the prospect has a ‘lovely 100 to 1000 pbb gold soil anomaly running through it’.
“There are several historical mines at Advance with records indicating underground mining to over 100 metres depth with an average mined grade of 90g/t Au; and has never been drill tested. We will certainly be drilling Advance as part of the current programme and this is a great example of how underexplored the project is which translates into a fantastic opportunity to add significant value for Metal Bank.”
Beyond the defining of a resource in mid-2018, the company will begin to craft a scoping study based around multiple open pits on shallow high-grade resources potentially feeding a central processing facility.
However, while Metal Bank’s primary focus remains on developing a near term high-grade open pit mining scenario, there is confidence amongst the team that there could be the potential to follow deposits down to depth to sustain underground mining operations.
The style of high-grade mineralisation present across the project is very likely to be connected to the mother intrusion that is driving the widespread mineralisation, according to Schreck.
“There are many examples of this style of mineralisation in Queensland. We have got good lateral and depth extent on these high-grade structures and ultimately if you follow them along or down they should lead into the bulk tonnage gold system that is driving the whole system.
“The high-grade mineralisation is luring and will certainly open up some doors to near term production, but the bulk tonnage mineralisation potential really does open up some fantastic upside on the Triumph project,” says an enthusiastic Schreck.
The Eidsvold project
Metal Bank’s other major development is currently taking the backseat as the company focuses its energy on progressing Triumph, but nonetheless the Eidsvold project is held in very much the same stead owing to its striking geological similarities to Triumph.
“When we originally completed the project generation across Queensland to identify these two projects, our criteria was to look around historical goldfields for opportunities and both Triumph and Eidsvold were centred on historical goldfields that were surrounded by sediment cover, potentially concealing the true extent of the gold mineralisation.”
The reasoning behind this approach is based on the fact that during the early mining days of the 19th and 20th centuries, prospectors only had limited visual and panning techniques, which were able to identify outcropping mineralisation but failed to detect any deeper or undercover mineralisation.
However, now armed with several modern methods including airborne and ground geophysical systems, advanced exploration models and modern drilling techniques, Metal Bank aims to open up new project opportunities across and around these underexplored historical goldfields.
Metal Bank’s preliminary work at Eidsvold has already been able to show it is part of a fertile intrusive complex spanning 250km², which has never been recognised before as 90% of the complex is concealed by sediment cover.
“In the last three months we’ve completed one of the first drilling programmes on the project. Using the regional spaced geophysical data we were able to target a magnetic low and intersect 3 metres @ 2.3g/t Au under 10 metres of sediment cover and that is a fantastic outcome.
“That result has transformed Eidsvold to the point now where we are going to commit to an airborne EM and magnetics survey across the whole intrusive complex and that will prioritise our targets ahead of a second phase of drilling in mid-2018.”
Over the next 12 months, Schreck and his team at Metal Bank will be doing everything they can to accomplish the company maxim of ‘growth after discovery’, with the establishment of a maiden resource figure in mid-2018 the next achievable step on the path to delivering shareholder growth.