The mineralisation at Critical Resources’ Halls Peak project is no secret – the ground has been fertile for base metals for more than a century. But mysteries here remain unsolved.

The on-ground puzzle pertains to the source of the mineralisation at the well-known but sparsely explored New England Fold Belt project in New South Wales, and Critical (ASX:CRR) fully intends to get out there and solve it.

“Halls Peak has been around for about 100 years, and there’s been near-surface, small-scale mining over that time,” Critical’s recently appointed CEO Alex Biggs told Stockhead over a coffee in West Perth.

“When you look at previous operators, they’ve always just drilled the top 100m, because they knew that they were guaranteed to get results doing that.”

Previous drilling at Halls Peak by past operators recorded intersections including:

  • 37.2m at 8.7% zinc, 3% lead, 85 grams per tonne silver and 1.4% copper;
  • 11.3m at 15.18% zinc, 8.02% lead, 597g/t silver and 1.61% copper, and;
  • 11.2m at 19.71% zinc, 10.77 % lead, 134.96 g/t silver and 0.8% copper.

They’re phenomenal numbers, but they don’t tell the story of the mineral source which Biggs is so determined to track down.

“Investors soon realise, and we realise, that all this high-grade, near-surface mineralisation has to come from somewhere – it didn’t fall out of the sky,” he said.

“You’ve got to chase the source of the mineralisation.”

The project in regional context. Pic: Supplied.

If Halls Peak is a mystery lying in wait of a worthy detective, then it’s left Critical with some compelling clues to follow up and investigate.

Large-scale SEDEX style targets reminiscent of projects like McArthur River, Mt Isa and Carrington have been identified in geophysical data at the project’s Sunnyside and Gibson prospects.

Past exploration in 2016 identified high-grade mineralisation at Gibsons, and geophysical data suggests the potential presence of deeper massive sulphide targets.

Critical is planning a 2500m, 14-hole program here for Q4, with deeper holes to be surveyed by downhole electromagnetics for further extensions to mineralisation at depth.

The program is designed to confirm near-surface mineralisation and deeper SEDEX potential, to a maximum depth of up to 500m.

At Sunnyside, three holes for 1700m are planned to test a large-scale SEDEX target which has never previously been explored.

A total of three new targets have been identified here through a reinterpreted VTEM survey.

In all, Biggs said he saw massive potential at Halls Peak.

“This is a project that’s been overlooked by previous management, and as a new business we’ve reinterpreted some of the past geophysical work and we’re really looking to test scale,” he said.

“All of the indicators are there at this stage, and if you look at these targets – they’re not small. We’re comfortable, and we’re confident, as we head towards our drilling in the last quarter of the year.”

The targets in question. Pic: Supplied.

If you can nail down a base metals project in the current market, you could well be onto a tear – as evidenced by the recent performance of Rumble Resources (ASX:RTR) on the back of the promise at its Earaheedy JV zinc-lead project in WA.

“We know there’s something there, and that gives us a really good starting point,” Biggs said.

“Hitting any of these targets at Halls Peak is going to be transformational for us as a business.”

Oman ongoing

Critical has also inherited the Block 4 and 5 copper project in Oman, which has an existing JORC 2012 resource of 819,000t at 3.4% copper for 28,000t of contained copper.

Recoveries from metallurgical testwork at the Omani project came in above 90%, with +20% copper concentrate using a standard milling and flotation process flowsheet.

While travelling to site from Australia is challenging at present, the company has local feet on the ground and is busy progressing exploration and activity there.

“If you look at the location, there’s loads of other deposits and other companies doing work in the region, and our asset has the highest grade of any,” Biggs said.

“There’s critical infrastructure in place, and a number of opportunities for partnerships and JVs in which we could develop the project in tandem with somebody else.”

The Oman project is not short on neighbours. Pic: Supplied.

But for now, the Critical narrative will centre on the potential on the ground in New South Wales.

“If there’s one thing that COVID has taught us, it’s that Australian investors love Australian assets in Australian companies,” Biggs said.

“Particularly stories that haven’t yet been told, that have potential, that are somewhat derisked – like Halls Peak is.

“As a runway for us, that’s very exciting.”




This article was developed in collaboration with Critical Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.