Drilling results can make (or break) an exploration company. It only takes one fantastic result to end up like these guys.

Today, it was Manhattan Corp, Challenger Exploration and Middle Island announcing new drilling programs at their respective flagship projects.


Manhattan Corp

Market Cap: $4.6m

Initial exploration work will kick off at the newly acquired (but very old) Tibooburra gold project in April 2020, Manhattan Corp (ASX:MHC) says.

Between 1881 and 1901, prospectors pulled about 60,000oz of gold out of the project area in NSW.

But despite rich rock-chip gold assays and overall historical mining grades of +20 grams per tonne (g/t), the primary ore systems have rarely been tested below the water table (about 60m).

Manhattan will drill the high-grade New Bendigo prospect, where historic intersections include 22m at 4.94g/t gold, 8m from surface. Due to the “sporadic” nature of exploration since 1901, these have never been followed up, Manhattan says.


Challenger Exploration

Market Cap: $94m

Challenger Exploration (ASX:CEL) is starting 7,500m of phase two drilling at the high-grade Hualilan gold project in Argentina.

Phase one was a success, with highlights like 6.1m at 34.6g/t gold, 21.9g/t silver, 2.9 per cent zinc.

Prior to starting that program Challenger had a market cap of about $19m – now it is a $95m company.

Hualilan, which Challenger calls its “near-term development opportunity”, has a big historical drilling database and a non-JORC historical resource of 627,000oz grading 13.7g/t gold which remains open in most directions.

WATCH: 90 Seconds With… Kris Knauer, Challenger Exploration


Middle Island Resources

Market Cap: $4.7m

In WA, Middle Island (ASX:MDI) will launch a big 12.8km drilling campaign at the Sandstone project  to “confirm, expand and/or test” 14 open pit gold targets within 4km of its mothballed gold processing plant.

This drilling, designed to test that 900,00oz to 1.5moz exploration target at Sandstone, will feed into an updated pre-feasibility study (PFS) and ‘revisited’ project recommissioning decision in June.

“Commencing 2020 with ~$2.8m in cash (at bank or fully underwritten) provides a rare opportunity to realise a long-held ambition to deploy significant drilling metres across a multitude of open pit gold targets (and deposits) that have remained untested or poorly tested due to prior funding constraints,” Middle Island boss Rick Yeates says.

“With the Australian dollar gold price near record levels, any additional mineral resources identified during the drilling campaign should significantly enhance the outcome of the current Sandstone updated PFS, which is planned to be completed in the June quarter of 2020, prior to reviewing a recommissioning decision.”