Barry FitzGerald: Trek’s turned to gold – now will all its Christmas Creeks come at once?
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A big end of town mining takeover is usually followed by the casting off of assets that have become non-core to the enlarged bidder.
It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with the assets. It is just that they are not as important as they were in the pre-bid days.
Garimpeiro’s interest in all that is what it can mean for fleet-of-foot junior explorers in the know. It can be feasting time for them as they feed on the discards.
That has come to pass for Trek Metals (ASX:TKM) following the $24 billion takeover of Australia’s biggest listed gold producer Newcrest by Newmont of the US.
As the takeover entered its final stages, Newmont’s Colorado HQ told its exploration team in Australia to begin shutting down some exploration projects to make way for projects Newcrest would be bringing to the enlarged combination.
One of those to go in the rebalancing of the portfolio was Newmont’s 75% stake in the Christmas Creek gold project, 140km southwest of Halls Creek in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and next door to the Cummins rare earths/phosphate project of RareX (ASX:REE).
The stake was handed back to the privately held Archer X, with Newcrest having had spent $5.7 million on the project, mainly between 2019-2022.
Archer X is controlled by three guys – a prospector, a geologist and an accountant. The prospector is a long time mate of Trek non-executive director Neil Biddle of early Pilbara Minerals fame so he hit Biddle up for Trek to take over from Newmont.
The timing was perfect for Trek. It was shy of a flagship project after its Tambourah lithium project, 70km southeast of Biddle’s old stomping ground at Pilbara’s monster Pilgangoora lithium project, did not live up to early hopes.
There is still a chance that Tambourah will come good but it might be best for Trek to let others with ambitions to establish a big regional position to pick up the running and revert to a free-carried interest in a joint venture.
Christmas Creek is a worthy new flagship for Trek. It will be 100% owned too as Trek will be acquiring Archer X for mainly an upfront and deferred, and milestone, share consideration. It has about $7 million in cash to get moving on the project.
Newmont was originally attracted to the project by the geologist at Archer X, geological thought leader Jon Hronsky of West Musgrave discovery fame. The project area is suspected to be home to a triple junction of tectonic belts hidden by 5m of sand cover.
Garimpeiro best leave the geological lesson there. Suffice to say Christmas Creek is thought to be a possible extension of the rocks that host Newmont’s 10 million ounce Granites gold mine in the Northern Territory portion of Tanami desert.
Exploration drilling by Newmont between 2019-2022 at three prospects at Christmas Creek was as wide-spaced as could be, something major mining companies tend to do when they are looking for the next big one.
Despite the wide-spaced nature of the drilling, some nice hits were recorded, including 7m at 4.9 grams of gold a tonne and 2m at 9.65g/t.
Trek has a lot of information to absorb from Newmont’s work before getting on with its own drilling program. It will be zeroing in on some of the Newmont gold hits as well testing some other prospects Newmont didn’t get around to drilling.
It could be game-changing stuff for the small-capped Trek. So it will be one to watch when it punches in some drill holes once the wet up north passes around March. Trek was trading mid-week at the princely price of 2.9c for a market cap of $16 million.
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