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Western Australia’s goldfields have typically been a major focus for explorers, but the hunt for gold in Victoria is now gathering pace.

Chalice Gold Mines (ASX:CHN) is one of the three ASX-listed players that have the most prospective parts of the Bendigo goldfield stitched up.

While it is still early days, Chalice believes it could be onto something big at its Pyramid Hill project.

Bendigo produced more than half the world’s gold for 40 years in the late nineteenth century, making it the world’s largest producer between 1850 and 1890.

But up until two or three years ago, it had taken a backseat in the hunt for gold in Australia.

Canada-based Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA) is responsible for putting Bendigo back on the map as a hot gold exploration destination.

Kirkland owns the 7-million-ounce Fosterville mine, which is one of the world’s highest-grade gold mines and is currently the largest gold producer in Victoria.

The mine is expected to produce 260,000 to 300,000 ounces of gold this year at an extremely low operating cash cost of $US270 ($363) to $US290 per ounce – making it one of the lowest cost mines in the world.

The Victorian government estimates there is 32 million ounces of undiscovered gold in the Bendigo Zone beneath Murray Basin cover, where Chalice now has a ground position of some 3000 sq km.

Chalice Gold Mines (ASX:CHN) shares over the past 12 months.
Chalice Gold Mines (ASX:CHN) shares over the past 12 months.

Chalice, Kirkland and Catalyst Metals (ASX:CYL) own about 80 per cent, while unlisted Providence Gold and Minerals also has some tenements.

Chalice announced recently that it had uncovered two 12km gold anomalies at its Pyramid Hill project.

Anomalies overlie major regional faults which are an important control on the multi-million-ounce gold deposits located along strike, such as Bendigo, Ballarat and Castlemaine.

The anomalies are located within 30km of the 22-million-ounce Bendigo goldfield and within 20km of Catalyst’s Four Eagles project, where a record intersection of 16m at 63g/t, including 12m at 84g/t, was reported in late June.

Catalyst also revealed yesterday that it has inked a deal to acquire a 50.1 per cent stake in new exploration ground covering a known gold trend about 15km east of Kirkland’s Fosterville mine.

The landholding hosts a 25km strike length of prospective horizons with known gold mineralisation, Catalyst said.

Chalice boss Alex Dorsch says the Bendigo goldfield is easily one of the best goldfields in Australia.

“I think really all of the focus has been on the WA goldfields in the last sort of 30 or 40 years and I think a lot of Bendigo has been forgotten about and overlooked,” he told Stockhead.

“So I think absolutely it is up there with the top opportunities in gold in Australia.”

The surface footprint of Chalice’s Pyramid Hill project is about three times the size of the Kalgoorlie Superpit, which is about 3.5km long and was Australia’s largest open cut gold mine until 2016 – and every 100 vertical metres contained a prolific 3 to 5 million ounces of gold.

The discovery of the two new gold-in-soil anomalies along with the 70km of three gold-bearing structures already identified within Chalice’s landholding makes it a “compelling” case, Mr Dorsch said.

“Those two factors make our prospectivity very, very high, and the fact that obviously there’s gold endowments in the region to the south – there’s huge gold endowments between Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine and Malvern.

“There’s 40 million-plus ounces there to the south of us and those same rocks extend to the north. So I think those factors combined make it pretty compelling.”

Chalice plans to begin drilling in October.