The NSW exploration scene lit up back in September when Alkane Resources (ASX:ALK) reported a big porphyry gold-copper hit at its Boda prospect on the Molong volcanic belt in the state’s central west.

The wait is now on for Alkane to test the scale and depth of the porphyry system with some step-out holes, with the first three expected to be completed by Christmas.

Pending the result, Alkane has been hanging on to a 64 per cent share price gain flowing from the Boda excitement.

That sort of gain is what has fired up investors in the junior market to find the next NSW explorer that might emulate Alkane.

It’s why names mentioned previously like DevEx Resources (ASX:DEV), Alice Queen (ASX:AQX) and Magmatic Resources (ASX:MAG) have all traded substantially higher in response to Alkane’s September hit.

Today’s interest though is in the reformed, recapitalised and redirected Planet Gas, which became Sky Metals (ASX:SKY) in July after raising $4.5m for the NSW hunt and undergoing a 10-for-1 share consolidation.

It’s being mentioned around the traps for reasons that have as much to do with its people as it does for its projects.

And as all Stockheads know, there are three things that count when it comes to investment in the junior end of the market – people, people and people.

Sky’s managing director Peter Duerden is considered an expert on NSW mineral systems.

No surprise in that given before joining Sky, initially as CEO, Duerden was a district manager for Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) in NSW, and before that, he was a senior geologist with Alkane for more than 10 years.

Sky’s focus after leaving the Planet days behind was high-grade tin with a polymetallic and a porphyry overlay.

Its Tallebung and Doradilla projects are interesting enough, and come with big time potential for the metal that Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and others tells us is the most exposed to demand upside from new technologies.

Tin a bit on the nose

But tin is having a bad year.

Apparently, there is not as much soldering going on because of the US-China trade war, with the International Tin Council estimating demand this year will be down by 2 per cent.

Despite production cuts announced by big name producers in China and Indonesia, and trouble on the streets in Bolivia, the tin price has succumbed, falling from $US22,000/t ($32,076/t) in February to $US16,650/t.

Official stockpiles in the 360,000tpa market are tiny. When that is added to the growing non-traditional uses, the broad expectation is that prices will rebound before long.

The bigger point with Sky’s projects though is that if the high-grade exploration figures being reported by the company in its early work at the historic projects is converted into resources, it won’t matter much what the tin price is.

Sky last traded at 8c and on its consolidated issued capital, it is being valued at about $20m, which seems about right.

So much for Sky’s tin. What has really fired up interest in the stock is the recent addition by Duerden of a NSW gold leg to the company’s portfolio, which it could be argued, has yet to be fully reflected in the share price.

The NSW gold strategy took shape last quarter with a farm-in agreement with Heron Resources (ASX:HRR) giving Sky the right to earn an 80 per cent interest over the Cullarin and Kangiara projects, and with the free pegging of tenements at what has become the Duoro project.

There is a common theme to them which goes to Duerden’s time at Alkane as they all come with McPhillamys-style gold mineralisation.

McPhillamys is a 2moz gold deposit now owned by Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) which is being advanced towards production. But it was originally a discovery by a joint venture between Newmont and Alkane.

And as the former Alkane old boy Duerden explains, McPhillamys-style mineralisation has several distinct features which makes for the efficient search and ranking of exploration targets.

The Heron farm-in properties have generated McPhillamys-style results in the past, including a 148.4m hit grading 0.97 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, including 14.6m at 5.1g/t gold. Sky will be hitting the ground there next year.

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