Gold explorers continue to make new high-grade discoveries in the highly prolific Victorian gold fields at the same time as interest in the region from potential new entrants ramps up.

Kirkland Lake’s Fosterville mine is proving just how big the reward can be for Victorian explorers after it uncovered high-grade visible gold mineralisation up to 1km below the existing resource.

On top of that, the mine is on track to meet, and potentially beat, its full year 2021 production target of 400,000-425,000oz.

And M&A activity in the aptly named ‘Golden Triangle’ is also on the rise, with White Rock Minerals (ASX:WRM) the latest to break into the region via its merger with AuStar Gold (ASX:AUL).

White Rock said the deal was done at a time when Victorian gold exploration and production was experiencing an “exciting renaissance”, led by Fosterville and Costerfield, now among the 10 highest grade gold mines globally.

Victoria’s ‘Golden Triangle’ has delivered over 66 million oz of combined historical gold production.

Before Fosterville, just east of Bendigo, came into production and claimed the title of Victoria’s largest gold mine, the Stawell gold mine was the state’s premier gold producer until 2008.

Stawell was restarted three years ago and has produced roughly 2.5 million ounces. But the owners have identified the potential for a major expansion to production after uncovering extensive high-grade gold within the Magdala Basalt Dome.

Late last year, private owner Stawell Gold Mines (SGM) booked an impressive 98.6m at 5.81 grams per tonne (g/t) gold from the 410 Level including very high-grade zones of 1.35m at 32.2g/t and 3.05m at 14.72g/t.

“This is a terrific result and confirms what we have known for some time – that there is plenty of untapped potential in the Stawell corridor and particularly on the basalt dome structures that populate the corridor,” Campbell Olsen, CEO of Arete Capital Partners, which manages the mine and is a shareholder in SGM, said at the time.

The Stawell Corridor, which has yielded 6 million oz of historical production largely from the Stawell region and abutting privately owned Stawell gold mine, is of particular interest given it has not been as extensively explored as some of the other areas because it lies beneath shallow cover.

Groundwork managing director, and former Bell Potter Securities analyst, Peter Arden believes that’s what makes North Stawell Minerals’ (ASX:NSM) landholding so prospective.

“The Geological Survey of Victoria (GSV) estimated in 2009 that there is a most likely a total of 38Moz of mesozonal orogenic gold endowment under cover in the northern part of the Stawell Zone, most of which relates to the Stawell Corridor,” he said in a recent research report.

“NSM’s tenements are on the eastern side of the Stawell Corridor. The company’s tenements contiguously cover 51km of the interpreted strike extent of the SGM-style mineralisation and represent a dominant, province scale ground position, much of which has had little or no drilling.”

North Stawell Minerals

NSM’s exploration has identified over 50 basalt dome targets, similar to what lies within the neighbouring Stawell gold mine, and other targets in the Stawell Corridor.

“The further north you go, the further down dip it goes, so you get greater cover and because it doesn’t outcrop nobody has explored it,” interim CEO Russell Krause said.

“So how do we actually get to the bottom and find out what’s really there? What we’re doing is peeling back the onion if you like and exposing that the cover is not all that relevant.

“That’s why we’ve done all the geophysics and geochemistry work to find out where the targets really are. You’ve just got to peel back the layers.”

NSM previously undertook a detailed airborne gravity survey over all of its tenements.

Gravity surveys have become more highly regarded in recent years as a very valuable technology for gold exploration.

Meanwhile, drilling earlier this year at the Wildwood prospect uncovered high-grade gold very close to surface.

Top hits returned were 12m at 9.49g/t gold from 34m, including 1m at 46.9g/t, and 5m at 7.5g/t from 15m, including 1m at 16.25g/t.

The Stawell Corridor is regarded as one of Australia’s most prospective and historic gold provinces and provides NSM with a target-rich environment to explore.

The company, which is fully funded with nearly $12m cash in the bank, is preparing to start first-pass reconnaissance drilling to test high-priority targets.




This article was developed in collaboration with North Stawell Minerals, 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.