‘Garimpeiro’ columnist Barry FitzGerald has covered the resources industry for 35 years.

Tiny minerals explorer Marindi Metals (ASX:MZN) had been thrashing around for a couple years looking for a brighter future before its new managing director Simon Lawson came on board in May last year.

Lawson has not been able to weave some magic just yet, as the company’s 0.5c share price for a market value of $9.9 million reflects.

But under Lawson, a geologist with the sort of can-do attitude that comes from a long stint with the Northern Star gold juggernaut, Marindi has at least decided to focus its future on conventional Western Australian gold.

Its interests in conglomerate gold and zinc, and the legacy interests from its rather infamous lithium dalliance, are still there. It’s just that Lawson is a gold man through and through.

“Gold is my skill set and that’s why I’ve basically taken Marindi back to a pure gold focus,’’ Lawson said at the Resources Rising Stars conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

Marindi’s focus under Lawson is its Southern Forrestania gold project which covers about 1,000 sq km of the Forrestania greenstone belt, about halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie.

The belt has only produced 1.2m oz over time, mainly from the mined-out Bounty gold mine. That makes the greenstone belt something of an oddity when compared with the gold that has come from greenstone belts elsewhere in WA.

In recent times, the region is better known for its nickel and lithium. But Lawson reckons it’s time to have a crack at its gold potential.

“I believe that there is a whole lot more gold there, and we have smoke across the whole belt. Wherever we go, we seem to find more gold.’’

Because it is a junior and funding is tight, Lawson has had to find a low cost solution to working up drill targets.

“So we set about a very low cost strategy of acquiring data from different sources, and we bought a couple of old high grade gold mines for $45,000 late last year (Great Southern and Commonwealth).’’

Old mines set to face the drill test

The high-grade mines date back to the 1920s and a syndicate of farmers had another go at them in the 1980s. Historical production grades of up to 19 grams a tonne, and samples of surface rock dumps grading up to 9.95g/t, are certainly worth following up with a modern day exploration effort.

Marindi has done just that, with geophysics indicating extensions of what was mined by the oldtimers. A drilling rig is booked to arrive later this month to drill test the extensions which, given Marindi’s light market cap, could be worth watching.

Marindi’s low-cost data “mining’’ has also just elevated the status of group’s tenements in WA’s Paterson province, a region where Rio Tinto’s Winu copper discovery has created a bit of a buzz.

“I must admit I was not too keen on the project when I came in to the company,’’ Lawson said.

But a review of historical drill and geophysical data uncovered some impressive copper and gold hits by CRA (now wholly owned by Rio) at the Wanderer prospect back in 1987-1990 when it was looking for uranium near its Kintyre uranium deposit (now owned by Canada’s Cameco).

The “lost’’ drill results included 9m at 2.6% copper, including 3m at 4.7% copper, with significant gold and molybdenum assays at shallow depth.

Metal prices at the time, and CRA’s focus on the uranium potential, meant there has been no follow-up work in 29 years. At today’s metal prices, it is a red-hot prospect.

“The copper-gold-molybdenum relationship is quite important. I am not saying we have a porphyry yet, or even an IOCG (iron oxide copper-gold). But I am saying we have got something very interesting,’’ Lawson said.

Another one to watch in the 0.5c stock.