On the Drill Bit: Uranium exploration is starting to ramp up
If there’s one maxim that is true for resource explorers, it is that they live or die by the drill bit. Stockhead’s ‘On the Drill Bit’ column looks at the ASX explorers that have announced plans to start drilling in December.
December’s upcoming drilling is a fairly even mix of gold, base metals and critical metals, though uranium exploration is starting to pick up.
Here are the companies that are starting (or likely to start) drilling in December divided first by Australian states followed by those operating overseas.
Following a $5m capital raising, Brightstar Resources (ASX:BTR) plans to complete ~5,000m reverse circulation drill program in Q4 2023 across its +1Moz Menzies and Laverton projects in WA’s Leonora-Laverton district.
This will be followed by comprehensive infill and extensional RC and diamond drilling campaigns early in the new year at the Cork Tree Well deposit in Laverton and across the Menzies gold project for inclusion within the mine restart pre-feasibility study.
Information from these programs will provide details for mine design and processing pathways to reduce risk, streamline further workflows, and optimise project outcomes.
Krakatoa Resources (ASX:KTA) plans to start drilling in December to test the extent of high-grade lithium within a 1.3km by 500m halo at its Kinga Tamba project.
This is part of a broader reverse circulation drill program that was expanded by a whopping five times from an initial 1,200m to 6,000m after discovering a continuous and up to 39m thick pegmatite under sampled rock chips that had assayed up to 4.3% Li2O.
Drilling is expected to define the source of widespread anomalous lithium in soils at the project.
Over in the West Yilgarn, NickelX (ASX:NKL) is preparing to carry out a 1,700m RC drill program at its Dalwallinu nickel-copper-PGE project
NKL had recently defined a combined 12km of strike of geochemical anomalies at the project.
The highest priority target assays – DEM1 and DEM2 – represent some of the highest PGE assays (73.7 parts per billion platinum and palladium) the West Yilgarn has shown, as well as significant and coincident anomalous values of up to 466 parts per million (ppm) nickel and 843ppm copper.
Testing the underground potential of the Sand King deposit within its Davyhurst gold project is the objective of Ora Banda (ASX:OBM) and its 33-hole drill program that is due to begin in December.
Recent drilling to follow-up on historical drilling from the 1980s demonstrated the potential for mineralisation to continue at depth with assays such as:
• 14.3m at 8.3g/t including 12m at 9.8g/t;
• 3m at 7g/t;
• 4.9m at 3.6g/t; and
• 2.9m at 9g/t.
This expanded the lode system at Sand King to over 800m of strike and for more than 200m below surface with the potential for further depth extensions.
Reach Resources (ASX:RR1) has doubled its Phase 2 drilling program which is set to kick off shortly to follow the plunge of mineralisation at Bonzer – the top-ranked prospect within its Morrissey Hill lithium project in WA – and test other pegmatite targets.
Recent drilling testing a ~500m strike length within the central part of Bonzer pegmatite system from surface to a total depth of 400m down-hole had intersected highly-fractionated and fertile pegmatites indicative of lithium system.
Analysis of this drilling indicated that it might have struck the halo of a higher-grade lithium zone.
Spartan Resources (ASX:SPR) has moved to rapidly unlock the potential of Never Never, which comprises a current resource of 721,200oz at an average grade of 5.85g/t – and where earlier last week they reported a massive drill hit of 1,093g/t gold.
Investors have responded in kind, sending the stock from 11c to 42c since March – an impressive 280% gain amidst what has been a tough year generally for gold mining and exploration companies.
Proceeds from the placement will to be used to underpin an expanded exploration campaign at Dalgaranga, which will kick off with drilling at Never Never Deeps in December to grow the high-grade resource beyond the resource estimate update.
Pre-Christmas uranium drilling is looking likely at Norfolk Metals’ (ASX:NFL) Orroroo project in the Walloway Basin to uncover three known uranium occurrences and associated paleochannel structures.
The explorer is hoping to use the Bourne 000THD rig, the same model that is currently used by $230m capped Alligator Energy (ASX:AGE), as it can drill up to one hole a day while allowing time for downhole logging and grout/remediation work.
NFL is keen to drill as many metres as possible before the end of the year with results from this program to be reviewed and interpreted prior to subsequent exploration activities commencing along with further community and stakeholder engagements.
Olympio Metals (ASX:OLY) will begin deeper RC drilling at the Walloway prospect in South Australia once aircore drilling wraps up.
Recent Ultra Fine fraction soil sampling revealed several areas of notable REE anomalism that are spatially correlated with magnetic targets.
The deep RC drill will be combined with a gravity survey to define carbonatite targets that extend to significant depths in the West Arunta region.
Iltani Resources (ASX:ILT) is poised to carry out RC drilling at its Orient silver-indium project in northern Queensland to extend mineralisation intersected in Stage 1 drilling and test zones of extensive stockwork mineralisation identified by mapping.
Of the planned 23-hole program, the company will drill 10 holes now and the remainder when the wet season abates in early 2024.
Orient mineralisation extends over at least 4km2 and is believed to represent the upper levels of an igneous (porphyry tin) system, which has been preserved at the upper levels, by the collapse of the associated caldera.
Aura Energy (ASX:AEE) plans to start before the end of 2023 drilling targeting the exploration target announced for the existing Tiris East resource area within its Tiris uranium project in Mauritania.
It has also applied for 13,000km of tenure around the project, which it will work to progressively confirm and test exploration targets within through 2024 and 2025.
Battery Age Minerals (ASX:BM8) has been granted a permit for Phase 2 drilling across the entire 5km prospective corridor at Falcon Lake in Ontario, Canada.
While drilling had started early in November, the permit allows the company to reach across the entire 5km prospective corridor that has been identified to date.
All 15 holes drilled to date under Phase 2 have intersected spodumene-bearing pegmatites.
Drilling has also significantly extended the recent Falcon East Extension discovery, one of the first of +30 targets generated from the recently completed summer field campaign to be tested.
Blue Star Helium (ASX:BNL) is close to spudding its first helium production well at its Voyager project in Colorado with pre-drilling preparations now complete.
BBB #33 is an offset well to the BBB#1 discovery well where a 134ft gas column was interpreted with gas flowing to surface containing 8.8% helium.
This helium concentration seen at BBB#1 is comparable to that seen at the Model Dome historic production analogue which averaged 8% helium some six miles south on the same regional structure.
BBB #33 well is the first well to be drilled from the initial planned six-well inventory with final site works to be undertaken prior to Thanksgiving.
Haranga Resources (ASX:HAR) will begin a follow up RC drilling once auger drilling is completed at the Diobi and Sanela uranium anomalies within its Saraya project in Senegal.
Targets for the RC program will be selected based on results from the auger drilling, which seeks to define the orientation of the anomalies.
Saraya already has a resource of inferred resource of 12.5Mt at 587 parts per million (ppm) U3O8 for 16.1Mlbs of contained U3O8.
Hot Chili (ASX:HCH) will also start RC drilling at the newly acquired Marsellesa and Cordillera tenements, two previously producing copper mine areas set to increase resources at Costa Fuego.
Both areas are about 10km from the planned central processing hub at Costa Fuego abd were historically exploited for shallow copper oxide and copper sulphide material, but have never previously been drill tested.
The company intends to complete first pass RC drilling over both areas.
Over in Arizona, New World Resources (ASX:NWC) is planning to carry out drilling in late December 2023 or early January 2024 at the very high priority Discus copper prospect within its Javelin project.
Early stage exploration at Javelin resulted in the delineation of very strong IP anomalism over a sizeable area of 1.2km by 1km.
This IP anomaly will be tested by the initial 4-6 hole program totalling 1,500m.
At Stockhead we tell it like it is. Aura Energy, Battery Age Minerals, Blue Star Helium, Brightstar Resources, Haranga Resources, Hot Chili, Iltani Resources, Krakatoa, NickelX, Olympio Metals, Ora Banda, New World Resources, Norfolk Metals, Reach Resources and Spartan Resources are Stockhead advertisers.