Gold Digger: The gold mills aren’t ‘hungry’ anymore. What does this mean for juniors?
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The high Aussie gold price is sparking extraordinary demand for third party milling capacity in the WA Goldfields. This could impact a number of gold explorers on the ASX currently looking to toll treat small, historic deposits for quick and easy cashflows.
Toll treating – or processing ore at another company’s mill for a fee – is perfect for gold deposits too small to justify their own large-scale plant development.
>>>Scroll down for the top gold movers over the past week>>>
In recent years, numerous Australian gold mills were largely considered to be under-utilised (‘hungry’) or had a chunk of spare capacity set aside for junior players. That appears to have changed in a high gold price environment.
On Friday, aspiring miner Alt Resources (ASX:ARS) said it would be forced to postpone mining at the 36,700oz Tim’s Find gold deposit in the Goldfields region of WA.
Tim’s Find was going to help Alt ‘self-fund’ its wider exploration and project development plans; a strategy that is good for shareholders.
But the strong Aussie gold price has sparked increased demand for milling capacity in the WA Goldfields region, the company says, “with multiple small-scale mining operations commencing during the first quarter of 2020 and larger producers also looking for additional mill capacity to process ore”.
Mining operations were scheduled to kick off in July, but the company has been unable to lock down milling capacity.
Kalgoorlie’s Lakewood Mill, owned by private company Golden Mile Milling, is now fully booked for the remainder of 2020 and further into mid 2021, Alt says.
Alt was negotiating an ore sale agreement with the Paddington Mill, with ore scheduled to be delivered September through October 2020. That also fell through.
Paddington told the company that all spare milling capacity had now been contracted “to a larger company” through to early 2021. The lack of milling options has also led to an increased toll treatment cost per tonne, Alt says.
“The company will not commence mining operations at the Tim’s Find project without a contracted milling solution in place and is discussing other milling solutions,” Alt says.
Here’s how ASX-listed gold stocks performed for the period May 11– 15 [intraday]:
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On May 13, minnow Riversgold Resources (ASX:RGL) went from 0.8c to a high of 1.3c per share on big volumes for no apparent reason.
The ASX asked if there was info that hadn’t been announced to the market “which if known by some in the market, could explain the recent trading in securities”.
Riversgold said yes, there was.
“In the normal course of business”, the explorer had considered a potential unnamed transaction “to which the size did not fit the capital structure”.
“It was therefore decided not to pursue this specific transaction,” it said. The stock is now in a halt pending a cap raise announcement.
Mithril Resources (ASX:MTH) is working to acquire private explorer Sun Minerals which holds an exclusive option to earn up to a 100 per cent in the high-grade Copalquin gold silver project in Mexico.
Over the past week mystery investor ‘Kenneth Baker’ has hoovered up close to 10 per cent of the company’s shares.
Whoever Ken is, he appears pretty upbeat about the company’s prospects.
Ecuador-focused Titan Minerals (ASX:TTM) has finalised a deal to acquire Canadian company Core Gold, which will now be delisted from the TSX.
Titan managing director Laurie Marsland says the explorer is keen to get back on the ground.
“Globally, Ecuador is attracting a lot of attention, particularly given recent transactions that include Newcrest increasing its interest in Lundin Gold and Franco Nevada providing a $US100m royalty financing package for SolGold,” he says.