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The Paterson Province hasn’t had a tier-one discovery in a while, but the scene is set for the home of the Telfer gold mine to re-emerge as an exploration hot-spot.

The province is largely known for hosting Telfer, which helped make Newcrest Mining into a force in the global gold industry.

Telfer has a 40-year history, and to date has produced 32 million ounces of gold and one million ounces of copper — but that’s largely been the extent of the action.

There was a prevailing thought in mining circles that the best days of the Paterson was behind it, but a counter-bet from ASX-listed junior Antipa Minerals (ASX:AZY) looks like it could pay off.

Antipa picked up a 1700km2 tenement package from Centaurus Metals (ASX:CTM) back in 2011 and has been exploring ever since — picking up additional acreage from Paladin Energy and the country’s most successful prospector, Mark Creasy, along the way.

Its bet was that there were more compelling discoveries to be found, but the province by and large hadn’t been subject to modern exploration techniques like aeromagnetic surveys.

Antipa’s approach has allowed it to build a nice position.

It has a resource of 1.64 million ounces of gold and 127,000 tonnes of copper at its Citadel project, while its Minyari and WACA deposits hold a resource of 723,000 ounces of gold and 26,000 tonnes of copper.

It’s under shallow cover, which means that in the case of development it should be fairly cheap to mine.

Despite the good work done to date, it’s only in the last six months or so that the Paterson has emerged as an exploration hotspot, and Antipa is in the thick of it.

What to do about Winu?

It was in the back-half of June that the market cottoned onto the fact that Rio Tinto may have its foot on something big in the Paterson.

It had been exploring the Winu prospect along strike from Antipa’s Citadel project.

Back in 2015, Rio agreed to take a 75 percent of the project by spending $60 million on exploration.

It was a coup for Antipa and gave the company’s share price a nice kick at the time.

More share price momentum followed for Antipa as the drums started beating more loudly about the Winu discovery.

It emerged in June and July that Rio was gearing up for something big — with reports emerging that it had built a mining camp and airfield strip in the area.

Suffice to say that sort of activity is usually a sign that something’s up — and while Rio remained tight-lipped it was music to the ears of Antipa.

“I think Rio’s discovery has done wonders to focus people’s minds to the potential of the area,” Antipa executive chairman Stephen Power told Star Investing.

“This province is a world class exploration area, and I think we’ve got a fair swag of it.”

As 2018 rolled into 2019, stunning gold hits from UK-listed Greatland Gold reminded the market of the gold potential once again.

The Australian described the results, which included a hit of 275m at 4.77 grams per tonne from 549m as “one of the most spectacular drill results to come out of Australia in recent memory”.

That again validated Antipa’s early-stage position.

“You’ve got also Greatland Gold with its own results, which again just proves what this what this area province is capable of. I mean really that’s why we went in there.”

READ: Antipa to drill four ‘Haveiron lookalikes’

Then in February this year, Rio offered the market the first glimpse of what it thought it had at Winu.

It revealed it had drilled eight reverse circulation holes and 20 diamond holes to date, and the early assays were encouraging — with a number of thick intercepts grading up to 1.03 percent copper and 1.22 grams per tonne gold.

It was enough for it to tell investors that the mineralisation was shallow, and remained open to the east, north, and south.

Suffice to say, juniors like Antipa are fairly excited.

”A company-maker overnight”

At the moment Antipa is gearing up to conduct another major exploration campaign in the province in April.   

While Power spoke to Star Investing before Rio’s Winu announcement, he couldn’t help thinking about the longer-term play in the province.

“We’re really excited to just get out there and do this big blue sky stuff which can be a company-maker overnight,” he said.

“When you think about the province as a whole, obviously you’ve got Telfer down there with a 20 million tonne per annum processing plant.

“That’s obviously big-ticket stuff, but maybe we can do an agreement with them [Newcrest] to get some early cash flow happening.

“Then you have Rio to the north…and that could be a game-changer again. It really allows us to have some big ideas.”

With juniors such as Greatland Gold getting impressive results  and Rio in the early days of defining a potentially huge copper-gold discovery, Power’s not the only one thinking big.

The Paterson province is getting a re-rating from experienced mine watchers, and while 2018 was the year the province got investors excited again — 2019 could be the year the Paterson emerges from its slumber.


This content is produced by Star Investing in commercial partnership with Antipa Minerals.  This content does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.