Junior explorer Warrigal Mining has some big plans for its project portfolio near WA’s Murchison Region, north of Perth.

And in the meantime, the company is leveraging its privately-held status to do things a little differently.

Warrigal has two gold exploration projects on the go at Mt Magnet and Warriedar, along with a strategic landholding adjacent to a world-renowned VMS base.

CEO Owen Burchell founded the company three years ago when he was completing a Masters thesis in the nearby Yalgoo mineral fields, and noticed a lot of smaller gold producers setting up shop in the region.

“When some ground in a prominent area became available I pegged that myself. I thought it was an opportune time to take a foothold there and utilise my local knowledge,” he told Stockhead.

Burchell was joined in 2018 by business partner Don Smith, who came aboard full-time after previously assisting the project while also being involved in a successful IPO at another mining company.

At the heart of the company’s strategy is an effort to strike it big in an area that’s well known for surface-level mineralisation.

“It’s a bit of a different approach — the areas that we own have got historical mining production on them, so it’s not necessarily greenfields,” Burchell says.

“But the scale of what we’re looking for is potentially new, no one’s really done that here. There’s local minerals at the surface but we’re looking for the big one — the source of all that local mineralisation.”

Smith said the company expects to stay busy in the near-term as it looks for established evidence of intrusion-related gold systems.

“We’ve got a lot of field work coming up — soil sampling and probably drilling some high-quality targets,” he said.

He highlighted the Mt Magnet project, where Warrigal is assessing some prospective quartz reef mineralisation — “the classic WA gold material”.

“We’re also big on intrusive systems, that’s a key company focus. We’re looking for a new type of mineralisation — at least to WA — that’s purely intrusive related. And we know there’s been a lot success in Mt Magnet finding that type of thing already,” Smith said.

Practical approach

Both Burchell and Smith said they won’t rule out a public listing in future, but they’re not in any rush to change their private structure. And in addition, it’s important to get the timing right when you do list.

Warrigal funded its initial exploration efforts internally, and has also taken capital contributions from a network of peers that have assisted the project in the early going.

It’s also been pleasantly surprised by the response of local vendors, from whom it acquired ground to catalogue historical production in the area.

“We’ve found those vendors have then turned around and offered funds without solicitation, once they see the bigger picture of what we’re trying to do,” Burchell said.

For now, the company is intent on taking advantage of its private structure to stay “lean and mean” without the perils of administrative burden.

“Our theory is that if you let mining professionals — geologists and engineers — have full control of their input, you’ll get better output,” he said.

In other words, asking people what they need to get things done — rather than trying to operate within strict limitations.

“That hasn’t always been available over the past decade in mining. You’ll be asked to deliver something but you won’t be allowed to have the means to do it,” Burchell said.

“It’s like asking a baker to bake bread but he’s not allowed to use the right type of flower because it’s too expensive.”

Ultimately, the pair said that maintaining a nimble private structure gives Warrigal the best opportunity to add value.

“Really it comes down to value generation — getting back to fundamentals of exploration rather than administrative tasks,” Burchell said.

“And that’s probably a bit harder to sell if you’re a listed company with nothing there to demonstrate. We’re building up the value so if we do hit the market we can de-risk it and hit the ground with exploration momentum.”