Helix Resources plans to adopt a more focused approach to exploration at its Cobar copper assets in 2021 on the back of $3 million capital raising completed last week.

The owner of the Collerina and Canbelego JV copper projects in the highly prospective NSW copper region, Helix (ASX:HLX) brought in industry veteran Mike Rosenstreich as managing director in January in a bid to fully realise the potential of its copper landholding.

Speaking to Stockhead following the release of drill results from 2020, Rosenstreich said his appointment was made on the basis the company would adjust its approach to achieve exploration success.

“I want to go collectively big and bold in Cobar,” he said.

“This week, we will start flying a very significant regional-scale geophysical survey, to gather big datasets which will give us greater geological context for the whole land package we have in the region.

“By doing that, we can much more effectively rank and prioritise the different targets we’ve identified over the years and make sure we’re always drilling the best ones first – we can be systematic and do more with our exploration effort.

“The capital raising enables us to take a new approach to exploration at Helix.”

The company has an excellent base to build off. Collerina’s Central Zone deposit has an indicated and inferred mineral resource of 2.02 million tonnes at 2.03% copper and 0.1 grams per tonne gold, for 40,000 tonnes copper and 9400 ounces of gold.

At the Canbelego JV – held in partnership with Aeris Resources – there’s an inferred JORC 2004 compliant resource of 1.5 million tonnes at 1.2% oxide and transition copper.

They’re good numbers, but Rosenstreich sees potential at Cobar which can only be tapped through organised and methodical exploration – starting with geophysical surveying.

“We’re using electromagnetic surveying as a geophysical technique, and that generally finds copper deposits in the Cobar region,” he said.

“It’s a great first-pass tool, and we’re applying it big – 2000km is a pretty chunky sized survey, and it will give us a base plan of data to help us rank our existing targets, which is extremely valuable.”

The plan is comprehensive. Surface and downhole EM surveying will be carried out in the first quarter of 2021, alongside surface geochemical sampling to help better define targets.

Drilling is planned for Canbelego and the Central Zone deposits in Q2, focused on both extension and infill, as well as regional target drilling, further surface geochemical sampling and metallurgical sampling and test work design.

In Q3, extensional drilling will be carried out at Canbelego and Central Zone, along with further regional target testing and surface geochemical sampling, and surface EM will guide the follow-up drilling of new and extended targets.

Initial mining and processing development studies are also planned for this quarter.

Q4 will focus on drilling towards resource upgrades and looking at new targets, with regional target test drilling and development studies ongoing.

“We’re bringing a new approach to how we explore in the Cobar region,” Rosenstreich said.

“We’re going to be collecting and looking at the data, making sure we can put our existing deposits into context of the broader area on the back of those regional-scale datasets.”

Helix also has gold prospects in the area, in and around its copper trends. The managing director said while there was potentially a serious prize there, the immediate focus would be on the Cobar’s copper potential.

Red metal region

The Cobar region is renowned for its copper, hosting a number of high-grade red metal deposits which places Helix at an advantage down the track.

“Being in the Cobar Basin is a significant advantage for a company like Helix,” Rosenstreich said.

“It’s an area known for high grade copper and one well served by infrastructure, including existing copper processing facilities.

“When you put that into the mix it really does create a strong basis to be in the region. But the main driver is always prospectivity – the kind of grades and deposits the region is known for, and then the infrastructure and processing ability that comes with it.”

Helix Copper
Helix’s placement within the broader Cobar region. Pic: Supplied.