Alicanto Minerals is in “monster VMS territory” as it builds momentum in Sweden
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Special Report: The company is looking to leverage its local knowledge advantage as it undertakes an exciting drilling program in the famous Bergslagen district.
For ASX investors who scan the globe for the next mining hotspot, Sweden is still a bit of a hidden gem. Even though the country has been mined for thousands of years and is classed as a Tier 1 mining juristiction, what most don’t know is that Sweden has only been open to foreign investment since the 1990’s.
The large outcropping orebodies in Sweden have all but been discovered many years ago, but for Alicanto Minerals (ASX:AQI), the mineral-rich country represents a unique opportunity to strike a high-grade commercial resource just below the surface.
And CEO Peter George and his fresh management team, backed by Steve Parsons who is boss of Bellevue Gold Limited (ASX:BGL), are uniquely positioned to do just that, as they explore tenements adjacent to some famously high-grade volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits.
VMS deposits are created as a result of underground volcanic activity, and are commonly associated with high grades of copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver.
Alicanto has two such projects — Oxberg and Naverberg — both of which have advanced drill-ready targets scheduled for drilling in the December quarter.
Alicanto’s focus on Sweden makes it unique among ASX-listed explorers, and it’s partly to do with George’s strong links to the country and the unique opportunities available there.
He first visited in the mid-90s, completing a master’s thesis in mining engineering (via Lulea University) at a Swedish mine.
He subsequently lived there for a number of years managing a few of the country’s VMS mines for Boliden AB and maintains a strong network in the Swedish mining industry.
Alicanto’s chief geologist in Sweden, Erik Lundstam – who just happened to start with Boliden on the same day as George, is also on board and comes more recently from having been in charge of Bolidens Exploration in Sweden.
Speaking with Stockhead, George explained a bit of history and why he believes that there is a good chance to discover some huge high-grade deposits in the mineral-rich Bergslagen district.
The Bergslagen has been mined for as long as records have been kept in Sweden, so at least the last 1,000 years.
The well known “monsters” (greater than 25 million tonnes) are the incredibly rich ore-bodies at Falun, Garpenberg and Zinkgruvan – these outcropping orebodies were discovered by the old timers who couldn’t have imagined the future riches they were standing on.
In more modern times, the majority of the expansion in resources in the Bergslagen has been in the immediate vicinity of the existing deposits.
Boliden recently (since 1999) discovered over 150 million tonnes of high-grade zinc, lead, silver and gold ore at its flagship Garpenberg mine (of which Lundstam was an integral part of the team leading the discovery).
This 150 million tonnes of ore (50 years of mining) was found below 180m of cover and had been missed by modern geophysics – it was found between the North and South mines (only 8km apart) through the application of clever geology and understanding the rocks and the structures.
When looking in Sweden for projects, George also wanted to explore in close proximity to existing (mined out or operating) high-grade deposits that had limited modern exploration.
He quickly came to the realisation that the Falun district, with the Falun mine (closed 1992) having produced over 28 million tonnes (at 5 per cent zinc, 4 per cent copper, 2 per cent lead, 35 grams per tonne (g/t) silver and 4g/t gold), had not been seriously looked at for base metals since Boliden did some limited exploration in the late 1990s (Lundstam was also part of that team early in his career).
When they investigated along strike from Falun to the West, they discovered the Skyttgruvan mine (5km from Falun), which was mined between 1886 and 1904 at an average grade of 38 per cent zinc as well as copper, silver and lead.
On top of this, there were historical high-grade grab samples along this ore horizon further to the West that had not been followed up since Boliden’s time.
Since Alicanto’s positive shareholder meeting in July, the team has also confirmed their initial theories that the Oxberg and Naverberg projects are a continuation of the Falun structure in the form of VMS style Carbonate Replacement Deposits (CRD) – the same geology and structures that helped form (and also hide from prying eyes for nearly a thousand years) the Garpenberg deposits.
The company has now mapped more than 30km of a prospective VMS mineralised trend along strike from Falun.
This mineralised horizon, which initially ran horizontally when formed, now stands broadly vertical after a few billion years of folding.
The team has now investigated all of the known (and a few unknown) outcrops in the area and has confirmed historical high-grade grab samples.
“At Naverberg, we have a high-grade ore body of 28 million tonnes a few kilometers down the road on the same mineralised horizon as the Skyttgruvan high-grade zinc mine,” George said.
“If you apply the same geological science from Garpenberg, the chances of finding another ore body along our + 30km of strike are really good. We are very excited at what the near future could hold.
“It’s monster VMS territory — that’s the best way I can describe it. And we are right in the middle of it with assets that have been all but forgotten about since before Sweden was opened up for foreign investment.”
To boost its cash position ahead of the drilling program, Alicanto recently completed a $950,000 share placement at 5.2c — a healthy premium to its last raise.
“We’ve had a good rise in the share price from our previous raise at 2.5c, so the message is starting to get out there that we’re going places,” George said.
And if the science proves correct, the company could have plenty of great news for investors before the year is out.