North Stawell Minerals has received some extremely promising results from aircore drilling of the Challenger prospect that indicate it is the equivalent of the upper reaches of the ore system mined and studied at the 5-million-ounce Stawell gold mine.

North Stawell Minerals (ASX:NSM) has hit gold anomalism in 22 of 24 holes drilled into the margins of a geophysics-identified basalt dome with interpreted similarities to the geology controlling the multi-million-ounce gold mineralisation at the nearby Stawell mine.

Aircore drilling at the Challenger prospect consistently intersected broad anomalous gold zones over 1.2km of strike on the prospective margin of an interpreted, deeper basalt under cover.

This was welcome news to investors, which pushed shares up to an intra-day high and closing price of 10.5c on Tuesday.

North Stawell Minerals (ASX:NSM) share price chart



CEO Russell Krause said NSM’s geologists interpreted the Challenger drilling to represent “Mariners-type” mineralisation – vein-hosted gold in structural splays in the sedimentary rocks in the pressure-shadow above the deeper buttress of basalt.

At Stawell, the Mariners system ultimately links to the Central Lode and Golden Gift lodes that occur on the margin of the basalt and continue to a depth of 1.6km.

“The 24-hole air core program has tested the margins of a geophysics-identified basalt dome with interpreted similarities to the geology controlling the multi-million-ounce gold mineralisation at the Stawell mine,” Krause explained.

“Drilling has returned a remarkable success rate for gold anomalism in aircore drilling – with 22 of 24 holes including anomalous gold in the target structural position.

“Importantly, seven of the holes end in anomalous grade and many holes include thick intercepts – a very positive sign that drilling is proximal to significant bedrock mineralisation.”

The drilling program returned notable hits including 18m at 0.16 grams per tonne (g/t) from 60m, 15m at 0.16g/t from 84m and 23m at 0.09g/t from 88m.

Twenty-nine per cent of the drill holes end in anomalous gold grades.

There is plenty more exploration blue sky with only the northern 3km of the 7.5km Challenger target having been drill tested and anomalous gold returned on every northern drill fence.

Three more gravity-defined, priority basalt targets have been identified to the south but are as yet untested.

“The southern-most 4.5km of the target, defined in the high-resolution geophysics, remains untested with drilling and, at 7.5km total length with demonstrated gold- and gold-arsenic anomalism above a large, deep basalt, the Challenger target will continue to attract exploration focus,” Krause said.

“A larger aircore rig in 2023 (a Wallis Drilling Mantis 200) significantly reduced the impediments to drilling at Challenger, and NSM is excited that it has the right combination of cover penetrating geophysics, effective targeting methodologies, drilling capabilities and geological model in place to efficiently explore for shallow multi-million-ounce Stawell-type gold masked by a blanket of cover.”

Potential for multiple Stawell lookalikes

This is not the first prospect that has shown strong similarities to the Stawell mine in the gold-rich Stawell Corridor of Victoria.

In March, NSM reported the results of a seven-hole aircore drilling program at the Darlington prospect, which returned high-grade, well-defined mineralisation similar to that at the Stawell mine.

The Darlington prospect sits within the historic mine of the same name that once produced 2,347oz of gold at an impressive 18.2g/t and contains the southernmost mineralisation in the highly gold-prospective eastern Stawell Corridor.

The Caledonia prospect could also be a repeat of the Stawell mine, with drilling earlier this year returning more significant intersections that doubled the gold trend, just 570m south of past mining that delivered grades of over 15g/t.

“What we’re seeing at Caledonia looks to be awfully like a repeat of the Magdala dome style basalt units that form the core to Stawell-type mineralisation,” Krause told Stockhead at the time.

NSM has amassed a pipeline of over 60 potential targets in the Stawell Corridor and has been busy taking a closer look at 20 of the highest 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.