The gold exploration spotlight in NSW is about to swing to the state’s far north-west “corner country’’ thanks to the start of a highly anticipated drilling program by Manhattan Corp (ASX:MHC) at its Tibooburra project.

Tibooburra excited last month when a maiden drilling program by Manhattan discovered a new shallow and high-grade gold lode 240m west of the historic Main Zone line of mineralisation at the project’s New Bendigo prospect.

Best results included 7m at 18.16 grams per tonne (g/t) gold from 87m, and a new drilling campaign is due to kick off in the first week of August. First results could hit the ASX platform in early September.

The New Bendigo discovery has been enough to take Manhattan’s share price from true penny dreadful status to last week’s closing price of 2.3c, giving it a market capitalisation of $31m.

Manhattan Corp (ASX:MHC) share price


But the discovery was what Manhattan expects is only the start of its story as it systematically explores the project’s 160km stretch of prospective ground which runs within easy distance of the Silver City Highway from the outback town of Tibooburra, towards Broken Hill in the south.

Tibooburra was the scene of a gold rush of sorts in 1881-1901 and it is the modern era that government geologists identified and named the New Bendigo fault system as being important.


Similarities to Fosterville

Calling it New Bendigo was a reference to its mineralisation styles and structural development sharing similarities with Victoria’s central goldfields, where the super high-grade Fosterville success near Bendigo has triggered an exploration boom.

The initial success at the New Bendigo prospect falls into what might be called the “brownfields’’ (surrounding existing mines) category, in that a 1.7km line of old workings there made it an obvious early target.

The good news is that the discovery of the new lode to the west means New Bendigo’s upside is bigger than first thought.

It could well emerge as a cornerstone for the company as it also sets about chasing down what is considered to be the multi-million-ounce potential of targets identified along a 50km long southern zone of the Tibooburra project, where the New Bendigo fault converges with the Koonenberry fault.

The targets were hidden from old-timers by relatively shallow cover and fall into the “greenfields’’ (unexplored) category.

They include Mongrel, a 6-8km long geochemical anomaly with outcropping hydrothermal breccias. It has never been drilled.

Greenfields perhaps, but worthy of having a good go at given the potential prize that the area’s likely big gold traps could deliver.

The northern brownfields, and southern greenfields, concept for the long stretch of the Tibooburra project was the work of Jens Balkau, a former exploration manager for Regis Resources (ASX:RRL).

There is a similarity in the thinking behind Tibooburra and the work Balkau did in finding 5 million ounces of gold along the Duketon belt in Western Australia for Regis Resources, using a smallish known patch of mineralisation as the starting point to follow the mineralised structures.

Balkau has joined the Manhattan board.

The exploration program is big news in the two-pub town of Tibooburra, where back in the day they reckon the lazy would wait to pluck their gold from the streets after rare heavy rains.

It’s better known nowadays as a pastoral services town and staging post for tourists heading off to the national parks to the north.

They double its population during the winter months. It’s a 1,300km drive from Sydney. Easier to fly to Broken Hill and then make the three-hour drive up the Silver City.