Our current New Zealand mineral portfolio consists of 3 main projects; Westland Heavy Mineral Sands, Hard Rock Gold in Otago and West Coast Alluvial Gold.
The Smylers Gold project located in Central Otago, is the main focus of our mineral activity. Through detailed surface mapping and geochemical sampling, we have extended the known strike length of the Hyde-Macraes Shear Zone strands by some five kilometres eastward within our licence area (EP60389). The c.10 million-ounce Hyde-Macraes Shear Zone hosts the Macraes Mine, New Zealand’s largest producing gold mine.
Exploration work to date includes detailed structural mapping, channel and soil sampling, a large 3d resistivity + IP survey, and trenching. This work has revealed multiple gold-bearing shear structures that display characteristic Macraes style mineralisation across seven key prospects.
A shallow scout drilling programme has tested near surface extensions to mapped shear outcrops, trench intersections and geochemical soil anomalies. Scout drilling confirmed continuous gold mineralisation at depth, within 5 prospects. We have commenced a diamond drill programme to test the down dip potential of mineralised structures and further characterise the structure and style of mineralisation. A diamond drill programme is also underway in the adjacent EP60129 ‘Glenpark’ targeting the down dip potential of previously mined ore shoots on the shear zone.
Westland Mineral Sands
Our Westland mineral sands project involves eight mineral licences across along the length of Westland. The licences are targeting heavy mineral accumulations within Holocene shoreline deposits on freehold farmland, inland from the modern shoreline. The minerals contained in the sand deposits are sourced predominantly from the Southern Alps and concentrated by Westland’s unique set of geological and environmental conditions.
Historically, these deposits have been evaluated for ilmenite and gold but remain undeveloped for a variety of reasons. We are currently re-evaluating the resources with a wider focus, incorporating a wider suite of minerals including garnet, ilmenite, zircon, monazite, gold and REE bearing minerals. Exploration work to date includes historic data compilation, mapping, geophysical surveys, drilling and bulk sampling with encouraging results revealing that extensive mineral resources exist within the licensed areas. We are now focused on final process test work and comprehensive multi-mineral resource definitions and wider project feasibility studies.
Critical elements are essential for modern society, economic growth and national security, but are vulnerable to supply disruption and have no practical substitutes. Demand for critical elements, such as rare earth elements, has increased in recent years with the spread of high-tech devices for personal and commercial use such as wind turbines, solar panels, and electronics such as tablets and smartphones. Critical elements are essential for a global transition to a greener economy. We believe our Westland mineral sand deposits are the best critical element prospects in the South Island and are working to define this resource. Recent prospectivity modelling for critical elements by GNS Science has highlighted the potential of all our Westland project areas.
In South Westland, our Manakai Project is targeting alluvial mineral sands proximal to their Alpine Schist source. Regional prospecting led to the discovery of several heavy mineral prospects within the permit. Our current exploration programme is focused on the Manakaiaua Prospect, ~20km south of Fox Glacier situated on recently purchased freehold rural land. Coarse heavy minerals, predominantly garnet, are found concentrated to economic levels within Holocene river gravels throughout the prospect. A combination of recycling of glacial moraine sediments and catchments being wholly comprised of highest-grade schist result in higher-than-average HM concentrations to a depth of 70m within our prospect.
In Central Westland, we have 3 licences, with the most advanced being the Ruatapu garnet deposit. Recent exploration has revealed a large garnet resource exists within the licence and we are currently expanding the current resource estimate to include all other minerals contained within the deposit.
In North Westland, we currently hold 4 mineral permits situated on shoreline placer deposits. These deposits have been historically evaluated for their ilmenite content with considerable drilling and resource definition undertaken in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Recent work reveals North Westland has highest abundances of REE bearing minerals within shoreline sand deposits. Our goal is to evaluate the combined potential of all known heavy minerals including garnet, ilmenite and REE minerals within all permits.
With Hardie Pacific being one of the four partners in the consortium re-establishing the former Buller River Port at Westport to facilitate the bulk export loading of HMC, we are moving to commence production during 2021 of the circa 50m tons of resource contained within the above three deposits.
The dominate ilmenite contained in the northern deposits centred around Westport are likely to be the first field developed. The world demand for this product is currently strong, and their close proximity to the port will allow cost effective production.
The recently granted 2,170Ha exploration permit EP60567 “Wombat Creek”, is located immediately south of the Rimu Channel. The Rimu Channel, with its long history of gold production, is under-explored and we will target large volumes of paleo channel hosted alluvial gold. Little historic mining was undertaken within the permit area due to the basal auriferous gravels being deeper than the adjoining mined areas. Historic exploration through the permit area has been limited to shallow drilling and test pitting. To date, only low gold grades have been found in the surface gravels, however basal ~20m to the regionally prospective Blue Bottom basement has yet to be tested. Planning is underway for a systematic deep drilling programme to test these deeper gravels across the permit area.
In addition to the greenfields Wombat Creek licence, we have recently applied for a licence across the Rimu Channel. The Rimu project will compile historic exploration and mining data to generate drill targets in the unmined deeper portions of the well-endowed gold deposit.