Like the Fraser Range and Bryah Basin before it, the Paterson Province has become a Western Australian mineral exploration hotspot following media speculation that Rio Tinto has made a world-class copper discovery in the region.
For Antipa Minerals (ASX: AZY), the hype that has emerged over the past few months is further vindication of its decision seven years ago to make the Paterson the sole focus of its exploration activities.
Antipa listed on the ASX in 2011, with its main asset being a 1,700km2 package of tenements in the Paterson acquired from Centaurus Metals (ASX: CTM), known as the Citadel Project.
Additional ground was picked up shortly after in a deal with Paladin Energy, while another package of tenements were acquired from legendary WA prospector and dealmaker Mark Creasy.
Today Antipa has an interest in more than 5,500km2 of prime exploration ground in the region, including the Citadel Project which Rio is currently farming into.
“What drove us to the Paterson Province initially was because it had the capacity to generate tier-one assets proven by the world class Telfer gold and copper mine owned by Newcrest Mining,” executive chairman Stephen Power said.
“Telfer has been mined for 40 years, and pre-mining it had 32 million ounces of gold and one million tonnes of copper, making it one of Australia’s largest gold deposits.”
When Antipa was establishing itself in the Paterson in 2011, the address was far from fashionable, with the province having received only very limited exploration after the mid-1980s.
In fact, most of the main players, including Newcrest, were reducing their landholdings, which to a degree allowed Antipa to cherry-pick what it regarded as the best ground.
Key considerations included proximity to the existing Telfer infrastructure, the amount of prevailing “cover” and prospective geology.
Whilst Telfer was discovered because the mineralised rocks outcropped at the surface, in most parts of the Paterson the rocks of interest lie under a layer of sandy material, otherwise known as cover.
The less cover there is, the easier and more effective the exploration is likely to be.
It also follows that a discovery has more chance of being economic if there is less cover as there will be less waste material to move to get to the ore.
“The ground that we picked up has shallow cover, at most 80 metres, and more than 50 percent is under less than 50 metres,” Power said.
“Once you go east, west and south of our landholding, it drops off a cliff and you’re talking 400 metres to even kilometres of cover.”
Although Antipa can’t claim a tier-one discovery just yet, its efforts in the Paterson to date have not been without success, with the Company making several discoveries and delivering resources totalling 2.4 million ounces of gold and 154,000 tonnes of copper.
Antipa discovered the Calibre gold-copper deposit and the Corker polymetallic deposit at Citadel. The Calibre and Magnum deposits at Citadel contain 1.64 million ounces of gold and 127,000 tonnes of copper in resources.
The company has also defined a resource of 723,000 ounces of gold and 26,000 tonnes of copper at the Minyari and WACA deposits, part of its 100 percent-owned North Telfer Project.
Increasing the resource base was one of two key focuses of the 2018 exploration program, with a resource update slated for the first half of 2019.
The other focus has been making greenfields discoveries. Antipa has identified 11 priority gold-copper targets through airborne electromagnetics, and will systematically evaluate and test those in the first half of 2019.
This content is produced by Star Investing in commercial partnership with Antipa Minerals. This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.
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