‘Obsessed with making a discovery’: The junior explorer that doesn’t pay its board in the hunt for Australia’s next major find
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Tier 1 mineral discoveries, the type that belong in the portfolios of Australia’s biggest miners, can create gigantic value for explorers and their shareholders.
Like explorer Sirius, which rocketed into low orbit after making the Nova nickel discovery in WA’s Fraser Range in 2012.
A $5,000 investment at Sirius’ pre-discovery price of 5c per share (100,000 shares) would’ve netted a $433,000 profit at its takeover price of $4.38 per share just three years later.
Herein lies the attraction to quality elephant hunters like Great Western Exploration (ASX:GTE), which is confident of making a significant find across its +5000km2 gold, base metals and potash project portfolio in WA.
GTE Managing Director Shane Pike, is a veteran geo with 20+ years’ experience spearheading exploration programs for large companies like Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN), Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) and former Perth based gold miner Equigold NL, which was acquired for $1.1bn in 2008.
His background is both mining and exploration.
“Sometimes exploration geologists can be a bit theoretical and forget the economics, while mine geologists can be too economic and not think about geology,” Pike says. “My experience is across the whole business.”
On the exploration side his job for these major miners, particularly Evolution and Newcrest, was to hunt for tier 1 deposits.
He told Stockhead that the GTE board is not paid because they believe that their exploration acumen will lead to the discovery of a world class resource.
“[This] allows us to put about 85% of our funds straight into the ground,” he says.
“We’ve got a very supportive share register with over 50% being cornerstone holders or board management.
“We’re constantly prioritising and grading our projects to ensure we’re delivering the best bang for buck for our shareholders.”
Having relatively few shares on issue (~250 million) also gives shareholders leverage once a discovery is made, he says.
The second half of 2023 will be a defining one for the company, which has drilling planned across the very promising Firebird, and Atley Projects.
“We are obsessed with making a discovery,” Pike says. “We all want to see our hard work pay off.”
Great Western Exploration has defined a very large, high tenor soil anomaly in completely untested terrane at Firebird in the gold-rich Youanmi Greenstone Belt.
The promising 3.7km by 450m wide soil anomaly is 30km south of the multi-million-ounce Wiluna Mining Centre, and down the road from Western Gold’s (ASX:WGR) ~300,000oz Gold Duke project.
Importantly, a recently completed aircore drilling program confirms the soil anomalism at Firebird is ‘in situ’ – meaning the golden motherlode could be close by.
Assays of note included 2m @ 1.20g/t Au from 42m and 2m @ 0.88g/t Au from 2m.
Planning for deeper RC drill testing to test for the source is advanced, with a likely start date later this month.
“We’d like to find another [4Moz Northern Star (ASX:NST) mine] Thunderbox,” Pike says. “I think Thunderbox was found on a RAB result of 4m at 1.4g/t and 2m at 1.2g/t.”
“It’s still early stage here, but that’s the goal.”
But again, this +1000km2 slice of the Sandstone/Youanmi region is virtually unexplored.
GTE has now defined, and plans to drill, several targets which are in the same rocks as Youanmi and Penny West.
“We will be drilling a fairly quick ~300m RC program testing below a 950-450m ultrafine soil anomaly by the end of this month,” Pike says.
This article was developed in collaboration with Great Western Exploration, 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.