December quarter shaping as a big one for the juniors
Despite a backdrop of a lagging sharemarket, there are no signs of slowing down among our rising stars in the junior mining and exploration game if the latest round of quarterly reports are anything to go by.
With the calendar now having flipped to November, investors have digested all September quarter reports from those companies listed on the ASX.
It was a turbulent period for the Australian bourse during the three months to September 30 and, as it turns out, a precursor to an even more drastically fluctuating market in October.
But it hasn’t deterred our up-and-comers from advancing their projects.
Below is a snapshot of some of the highlights from the September quarter reporting season and a glimpse into the near-future in terms of activities already underway or about to get started.
Australian Mines (ASX: AUZ) is edging closer towards release of a bankable feasibility study for its Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in Queensland while project financing negotiations – including a potential funding deal with the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility – are accelerating.
The company has also moved to full ownership of its Flemington cobalt-nickel-scandium project in NSW and there is potential to significantly increase the current mineral resource at the project via a targeted drilling campaign, which is expected to begin early next year.
Cardinal Resources (ASX: CDV) completed and released an updated pre-feasibility study for its Namdini gold project in Ghana during the reporting period, with a maiden probable ore reserve of 4.76 million ounces. This confirmed the project to be technically sound and viable.
Without giving too much away, Cardinal expects to continue to generate some good newsflow from its ongoing greenfield exploration asserts in Ghana, as well as feasibility study activities.
St George Mining (ASX: SGQ) spent much of the reporting period conducting a major drilling program at its Mt Alexander nickel project in WA, which hosts the high-grade Investigators, Cathedrals and Stricklands discoveries.
The exploration work has delivered some remarkable results to date, with the company having now extended the program indefinitely in light of a string of massive, high-grade nickel and copper sulphide intercepts.
Black Dragon Gold (ASX: BDG) reported a string of high-grade gold intercepts at its 100&-owned Salave project in northern Spain, and post-quarter end delivered a better than expected resource increase. As it stands now, Salave’s combined measured and indicated mineral resource is 8.21 million tonnes grading 4.58g/t, containing 1.21 million ounces of gold plus inferred resources of 3.12 million tonnes at 3.47g/t for another 348,000oz.
The upgraded resources is being fed into a preliminary economic assessment while plans are afoot for further drilling.
Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) heralded the September quarter as transformative, having earned producer status after producing first rare earth carbonate from its Browns Range pilot plant project.
The pilot plant is expected to ramp up current production figures as it ships product to JFMAG under an existing three-year off-take agreement.
NTM Gold (ASX: NTM) received outstanding first-pass results from the initial component of a +20,000 metre aircore drilling program, underway at the company’s Redcliffe gold project near Leonora in the north-eastern Goldfields.
With the drilling program continuing into the December quarter, NTM also expects to follow up a number of targets including the new and exciting Hub prospect with deeper and more extensive RC drilling.
Ventnor Resources (ASX: VRX) took full ownership of the Muchea silica sand project during the September quarter under new agreements with Wisecat and Australian Silica, and subsequently revealed the development program for Muchea and its other silica sands project north of Perth, Arrowsmith.
Ventnor is poised to rapidly develop the potential of these two assets’ resources as the company has spent a considerable amount of time planning a development program and completed preparation for the implementation of environmental studies, resource estimations, test work programs and infill drilling programs.
Alice Queen (ASX: AQX) continued to advance its Horn Island gold project in the Torres Strait, Queensland, with an upgrading of the mineral resource estimate to 7.96 million tonnes at 1.9g/t gold for 492,000oz of gold while also completing a capital raising and identifying a profound change in the geological understanding and exploration potential of Horn Island.
In October, Alice Queen announced results from recently completed airborne geophysical survey and surface soils sample programs across Horn Island, both of which have identified high-priority targets for follow-up exploration work.
Core Exploration (ASX: CXO) is building the narrative around its Finniss lithium project near Darwin after entering into a pre-payment and off-take agreement with a Chinese customer, boosting the economics of its BP33 deposit and shifting its head office to larger premises during the September quarter.
With a resource upgrade of BP33 and release of a definitive feasibility study on Finniss imminent, Core will soon lift the veil on the true potential of what is shaping as Australia’s next lithium project.
Golden Rim Resources (ASX: GMR) conducted further drilling at its one-million-ounce Kouri gold project in Burkina Faso during the reporting period, which led to a new gold discovery at the Red Hill prospect, located southwest of the existing mineral resource.
The company will spend the December quarter on trenching, auger and RC drilling work at Kouri ahead of releasing an updated mineral resource estimate, which is expected to be revealed before the end of December.
Birimian (ASX: BGS) continued to progress work on its Goulamina lithium project in Mali during the quarter, following completion of an updated pre-feasibility study for the project.
Post-quarter end, Birimian engaged experienced lithium marketing specialist Anand Sheth as its strategic marketing adviser. Sheth will be responsible for assisting the company with ongoing negotiations with potential off-take parties and for introducing new participants to the process, with a view to securing long-term off-take arrangements.
Magmatic Resources (ASX: MAG) undertook a number of exploration initiatives across its portfolio of assets during the September quarter, including an IP survey at the Parkes joint venture and a drilling program at Bodangora, which confirmed high-grade mineralisation and identified a new area of near-surface gold mineralisation.
Magmatic wasted no time kicking off work in the December quarter, completing the acquisition of Landslide Investments, holder of an exploration licence at Magmatic's Yamarna gold project in WA.