Barry FitzGerald: Argent’s hoping history is on its side as Pine Ridge results pile up
Argent Minerals’ share price has got a wriggle on ahead of first results being released from its drilling program at its Pine Ridge gold project in central west NSW.
Ahead of the program starting, Argent (ASX:ARD) was a 1.4c stock. It has since moved higher to 1.8c, valuing the company at what continues to look like an unchallenging $9 million.
Results from the drilling program at Pine Ridge, home to a high-grade historic gold mine, are probably a month or so away. The hope is that Argent can match historic hits (including 21m at 5.6g/t gold from 50m).
Confirming the depth and strike extensions of Pine Ridge’s high-grade mineralisation would go a long way to meeting Argent’s new strategy of finding high-grade gold sources for its nearby Kempfield polymetallic deposit.
Kempfield has been around for years and Argent got close in 2013 to pressing the button on a development focussed on the deposit’s silver mineralisation.
But the subsequent collapse in silver (and gold) prices saw that idea parked up.
That’s why Argent’s share price has drifted lower in recent years. The market was suffering from Kempfield fatigue, notwithstanding better pricing for its mix of silver, zinc, gold and lead.
But Pine Ridge is new and fresh and could get excitement up, particularly if the pending results point to the potential for an early standalone cashflow opportunity, with the bigger Kempfield development to follow.
The drilling at Pine Ridge is part of Argent’s new gold-focussed strategy under which it has set out to find high-grade gold sources to sweeten the development economics of the big but low-grade Kempfield deposit, 19km to the north.
There are big gold and copper-gold deposits owned by others in the broader region, including Newcrest’s Cadia and Regis Resources’ McPhillamys project.
Argent believes Pine Ridge extends north towards Kempfield, along the same structural corridor that hosts the 2m oz McPhillamys, another 50km to the north.
Argent’s own big ground position is expected to lead to other higher-grade targets beyond Pine Ridge being drilled tested as potential sweeteners for Kempfield’s eventual development.
It is well known that Kempfield has an oxide layer that is relatively low-grade.
Still, Kempfield currently ranks as a 26 million tonne polymetallic resource (silver/gold/zinc/lead). Silver and zinc alternate as the most important metals by value depending on metal price moves.
The current resource equates to 100 million ounces of silver equivalent at 120g/t (giving the other metals a silver value), or 520,000 tonnes of zinc equivalent at 2%.
It could get bigger too as a metallurgical breakthrough reported last year led to Argent establishing a stock exchange compliant “exploration target’’ for an additional 58-190m ounces of silver grading 80-130g/t.
Kempfield itself will also be the subject of gold-focussed drilling.
In the next round of drilling at the deposit Argent will target the copper-gold footwall, and the potential for feeder zones, out on the western flank.
Previous drilling in the gold-copper footwall yielded several high-grade intersections, with best results including 10.2m at 1.5g/t gold from 28m.
Drilling in the potential feeder zone will be in an area that research by the company confirmed was also the location of a high-grade copper mine in the early 1900s.
Government reports from the time reported copper grades of more than 20% although that should not be taken as any guide to what might come from Argent’s drilling.
Away from the Kempfield region, Argent also has an interesting porphyry copper-gold exploration project on its hands at West Wyalong.
Another round of drilling there is being planned after Argent refines likely drill positions after taking in what a gravity survey over the property showed up.