A drilling rig is due to roll up next week at NTM Gold’s (ASX:NTM) exciting Hub prospect at its Redcliffe gold project near Leonora in Western Australia.

The drilling program could be worth watching as it has all the hallmarks of being a game changer for the lightly valued NTM ($13.8 million at 3.7c a share).

The Hub came to light last year in a pure exploration drilling program that followed NTM announcing a 94% increase in the gold resource base at the broader Redcliffe project to 534,000 oz.

In all, NTM tested 12 exploration targets of which six returned 1g/t gold intercepts which, in a first pass aircore drilling program, is pretty good stuff.

But the Hub was the standout, with drilling returning particularly strong first pass results in its southern area from near surface to a depth of more than 250m.

While the earlier results in themselves were strong enough to suggest the Hub had some substance to it, there was a complication. Turns out the Hub has a cross-cutting dyke problem. So did gold mineralisation continue beyond the 150-wide dyke to the north?

It sure did, with NTM recently reporting drilling results from an 800m zone to the north of the barren dyke.

Best results included 10m at 23.3g/t from 55m, 10m at 9g/t from 65m and 5m at 1.9g/t from surface in different holes.

Critical mass beckons

The results were probably amongst the best results from aircore drilling most in the industry would have ever seen.

Little wonder then that NTM is bringing a more definitive reverse circulation drilling rig in next week to better understand just what it is onto at the Hub.

The initial drilling in the latest campaign will focus on testing the depth extent of the northern zone, as well as providing a better understanding of the Hub’s high-grade tenor.

Assuming continued encouragement, NTM plans a more detailed resource drill out in the second of the year to establish a maiden resource estimate for the Hub’s southern and northern zones.

While it is best to wait for more results, the market is coming around to the idea that the Hub could shape up into a big and high-grade system, with drilling having the potential to add ounces quickly to the overall Redcliffe project.

That means that Redcliffe could soon achieve the “critical mass’’ required for NTM to begin considering its development options, either as a stand-alone operation or via toll treatment at one of Leonora’s many hungry mills.

There is a third option which might or might not be of NTM’s choosing – merger and acquisition action involving one of the owners of mining and milling operations in the Leonora region.

Company names in the region include St Barbara (Gwalia mine), Saracen Minerals (Thunderbox) and Red 5 (Darlot), among others.

Scratching the surface

While the potential of the Hub unfolds, it has to be remembered that the current 534,000 oz resource across a number of deposits in the broader Redcliffe area is not the end of the story as the deposits remain open at depth.

It is also the case that NTM reckons it has only effectively tested 20% of its 170 sq km ground position which includes a 40km stretch of the region’s prolific Mertondale Shear Zone.

That alone is likely to have been a driving factor in DGO Gold (ASX:DGO) recently taking up a $2m placement in NTM to give it 12% of the company.

DGO is led by Ed Eshuys, one of Australia’s most successful gold explorers.

The company’s strategy is to invest in a “portfolio of strategic holdings in ASX listed companies with major brownfield gold discoveries and development opportunities”.