Special Report: Uncovering a high-grade deposit at a project untouched for nearly 50 years is the dream of wheelers, dealers and explorers the world over.

For New World Resources (ASX:NWC), that dream became more and more of a reality over the course of 2020, as the hits kept coming from the historic Antler copper deposit in Arizona.

Antler was mined between 1916 and 1970 by a number of owners, producing around 70,000 tonnes of high-grade ore at an average of 2.9 per cent copper, 6.9 per cent zinc, 1.1 per cent lead, 31g/t silver and 0.3g/t gold over its initial life.

Prior to New World’s work the project was last drilled in 1975 – a program of nine broad spaced holes where eight hit high grade copper.

Last year, leading on from New World’s acquisition of Antler in January, marked the first exploration carried out at the project since 1975.

Exploration began – looking for thicker and higher-grade zones of the existing VMS deposit, which itself has a historic resource of 4.7 million tonnes at 1.95% copper, 4.13% zinc, 0.94% lead and 35.9 grams per tonne silver – and is open in all directions.

Success was rapid. And they weren’t recording just any old copper hits. At Antler, New World was intersecting thick, high grade mineralisation the deeper it went.

Intersections of massive sulphides like:

  • 23.3m at 3.48% copper, 8.84% zinc, 1.24% lead, 64.4g/t silver and 0.5g/t gold;
  • 30.5m at 1.99% copper, 4.85% zinc, 0.09% lead, 11.1g/t silver and 0.46g/t gold;
  • 23.1m at 2.56% copper, 5.57% zinc, 0.66% lead, 36.1g/t silver and 0.3g/t gold; and
  • 17.4m at 2.63% copper, 6.72% zinc, 0.64% lead, 29.6g/t silver and 0.26g/t gold.

The significance of the thick nature of mineralisation at Antler is not lost on New World’s managing director Mike Haynes, who said these results are telling of the project’s full potential.

“The most exciting thing throughout the course of 2020 was the systematic return of exceptionally thick, high grade mineralisation as we drilled deeper and deeper beneath the Antler deposit,” he said.

“It hasn’t just proven to be a one-hit wonder; we’re consistently hitting in multiple holes, as we go deeper, very thick zones of high grade mineralisation which bodes really well for building a sizeable resource base.

“The bigger the resource base, the more economically viable the project is likely to be.”

Antler success has New World excited for things to come
A long section through the Antler deposit showing the location of the company’s drill holes. Pic: Supplied.

Getting resourceful in 2021

It’s that last sentence that really guides New World’s intentions at Antler in 2021. The company intends to accelerate the project towards production – putting it into first gear with the planned release of a maiden JORC resource.

The project is well funded, with the company bringing in $10 million in a placement in December.

“When I say maiden, I think during the course of 2021 that we’ll have multiple resource upgrades because we will continue to expand the resource and build confidence in the resource via infill drilling,” Haynes said.

“While we’re doing that we’re also planning on pushing an initial mine plan through permitting, so that in a year-to-18 months’ time we’ll be in a position where we have the permits to begin mining.

“As we upgrade that resource and as we improve the confidence in our mining methodologies, costs, and commodity price outlooks, we’ll be in a position to commence construction and get Antler into production.”

Being a project untouched for 45 years has some advantages, according to Haynes, though much of the existing infrastructure onsite is unlikely to meet the scale needs of New World at Antler.

“We have some key benefits in that we’re 20km from an interstate highway and a transcontinental rail network,” he said.

“Rail is a cheaper mode of transport, so that’s advantageous when shipping concentrates. There’s also power which comes to within about 700m of the historic mine shaft at Antler. That would need to be upgraded for a mining operation, but the fact that the infrastructure is in place means we don’t need to permit a new access route for power – it simply means upgrading the power poles already there and making sure they can handle the capacity we need for a mining operation.”

The big question

The most obvious question that comes along when a 45-year dormant but highly prospective mining project pops up out of seemingly nowhere is “how?”.

It’s a query that’s lost on Haynes as well, who theorises that it may have something to do with the project’s previous owners – the dormant Standard Metals Corp, which held it since closure in 1975.

“I guess partially it might have been a case of no one being successful in tracking down Standard Metals Corp previously in order to secure the rights,” he said.

“Equally, maybe other operators hadn’t looked at the technical data that was available from the deposit in the same manner in which we looked at it. But when we assessed the technical data, we saw, in particular, the encouraging aspect was the historic high grade production and the nine holes drilled in 1975.

“We recognised that there were encouraging signs in that very broadly spaced historic drilling, and we were prepared to take risks to see if we could drill deeper and follow up what we interpreted to be thicker, high grade mineralisation.

“I guess our interpretation in this case has proven to be successful, in that we’ve continued to intersect thicker and thicker high grade mineralisation.

“We’ve been willing to take the risk, and I think it was a decision made through well-educated science that we did so. Other explorers or people may not have been willing to take that risk.

“I honestly don’t really know the answer to that one, but I am extremely grateful that the opportunity has come our way.”


This article was developed in collaboration with New World Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.