When ASX-listed junior explorer Northern Manganese merged with fellow Western Australia-focused junior Redcliffe Resources in 2016, the former gained access to the Redcliffe Gold Project, located 240km North of Kalgoorlie and 40km Northeast of the historic gold mining town Leonora. Renamed NTM Gold and with a new single asset focus, the amalgamated company made instant progress in the shape of five successful drill programmes towards the back end of 2016, which significantly enhanced NTM’s understanding of the geology and the mineralisation present across the site. Drilling continued throughout 2017 while the company refined its management team under the leadership of veteran geologist Rodney Foster.
At the start of 2018, Foster handed the reins of the company to Andrew Muir, another highly experienced geologist with an additional 13 years in the finance sector. RGN finds out how the new managing director plans to build NTM through advancing the Redcliffe project.
The Redcliffe project is located in the vast Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, within a prolific gold bearing structure of which NTM has secured a substantial tenure in.
The Mertondale Shear Zone
“The main mineralising structure is the Mertondale Shear Zone which is a major linking structure between two major regional structures,” says Muir. “It’s highly fertile, and there has been quite a lot of gold found previously in the Mertondale Shear.”
In fact, over 1.4 million ounces (Moz) of gold has been extracted and produced from the Mertondale Shear in both past and present endowment, most of which has been shallow oxide gold. However, large swathes of the region have received little to no exploration attention due to the presence of deeper cover. It is amongst these underexplored areas that NTM has focused its efforts.
“Nearby exploration and existing deposits highlight the potential of the region and whilst there has been some exploration, it hasn’t been conclusive with regards to finding mineralisation at deeper depths. So, it’s been our philosophy to drill deeper and we’ve had some good exploration success so far.
“We are also in the unusual position of having a reasonable sized land holding. We’ve got about 170km² of prospective ground,” reveals Muir.
“We already have a modest resource base which is growing, but one of the key differentiators between us and our peers is that we have four or five processing plants within 50-75km of our project.”
Therefore, while the project is well connected to WA’s unofficial gold capital Kalgoorlie, it is also conveniently located within trucking distance of a number of processing plants, which gives NTM a range of development options once the company looks to commence gold production.
However, there is plenty of work to be done before the company can begin to think about processing any ore, and its hopes of striking gold rest with the Redcliffe project, which has a current resource estimate of 278,100 oz (5.48 Mt @ 1.57g/t Au).
NTM has completed a succession of drilling programmes across a number of prospective targets over the last 18 months, many of which have provided excellent results.
“We are getting grades of up to 10-15 g/t in some of the higher-grade parts. Not all of them are like this, but we are chasing higher-grade shoots at depth. To date, the high-grade parts are probably averaging at 5 g/t which is easily mineable underground.”
The Bindy prospect
Some of the most impressive results from the sustained drilling activity at the Redcliffe project comes from the Bindy prospect, a large mineralised system with over 800 metres of defined strike that could potentially rise to 1.5km.
Until recently the drilling completed at Bindy was coarsely spaced at 100 metre intervals, so during the first quarter of 2018 the company returned with a more comprehensive infill RC drilling programme.
At the beginning of April, the company published an enticing set of assay results from the infill programme at Bindy, with notable intersections including: 20 metres @4.25g/t Au (Incl.10m @ 7.92g/t Au), 10 metres @4.20 g/t Au (Incl.5m @ 7.83g/t Au) and 15 metres @2.37g/t Au (Incl.5m @ 4.93g/t Au).
Overall, this drilling programme has significantly enhanced NTM’s understanding of the prospect and increased the company’s confidence in the grade distribution by giving a fuller picture of the continuity of mineralisation at Bindy.
In the same statement, NTM also revealed it had initiated diamond drilling at the Nambi prospect, another target within the Redcliffe project for which the company has high expectations. The diamond drilling was quickly completed and now NTM is analysing the data and will publish the results in due course Significantly, there was visible gold in the drill core, further boosting expectations of the deposit.
Taking into account the wealth of drilling activity conducted over the last 18 months, NTM hopes to significantly increase the overall resource at the Redcliffe project, with an updated resource announcement due by mid-2018.
“Based on the drilling we’ve done to date I am very confident that we can significantly increase our resource base in both the short term as well as the long term. We are confident that there will be a meaningful resource base on the project,” Muir declares.
On the investor side, the company has been continually well funded from its investor base on the ASX and this was demonstrated by a recent $1.25 million capital raise, a crucial result for the junior as it looks to continue with its aggressive drilling campaigns.
“We had some very strong demand from the market so we decided to increase the raise to $1.5 million. We also had bids for over $4 million which was a fantastic outcome.
“But given our current capacity and aims, we didn’t want to make the raise too big. We’ve still got plenty of funds to go out and do what we need to do in the short to medium term.”
Widening his gaze to the contemporary global commodity market, Muir believes there is always a case for having a portfolio with exposure to gold. “It has safe haven status and with the current geopolitical climate at the moment, we think that gold is a very good place to be.
“Of course, the Australian dollar is also helping. With the dollar at about 80 cents it boosts the Australian gold price up quite nicely. The sentiment largely shifts on US dollar pricing, but we think gold is a great place to be. it’s an easily understandable commodity, it’s a very transparent, very liquid market and you can always sell it.”
For now, NTM is occupied on getting its update mineral resource out by the middle of 2018, but beyond this it aims to expand greenfields exploration across its large land holding in the Mertondale Shear.
“In addition to the majority of our deposits having significant upside at depth and strike, there is 15km of our 40km length of tenements that hasn’t been tested properly, so that’s another target for us,” says the MD.
“We are active, we are drilling, we will have strong news flow over the next few months with the drill results coming through at all three major prospects and we will have the resource update by mid-year.
“That will be a major piece of news and value point for the company. Beyond that we will be looking to expand exploration beyond the deposits in an aggressive exploration drive.”