When the heli-rig hits the ground at Pantera Minerals’ Yampi project in October, it will mark a serious milestone in an iron ore region of huge potential.

Pantera’s (ASX:PFE) drilling will be the first carried out by the exploration play in the Kimberley since its listing to the ASX in early August, and done using a custom-built heli-portable rig crafted by Harmec Pty Ltd.

Remarkably, considering its location, Yampi has seen very little exploration in its time, despite sitting on the same geological host as high-grade iron ore projects such as Mt Gibson Iron’s Koolan Island project and Pluton Resources’ Cockatoo Island project.

The former of those projects has a reserve of 30 million tonnes at 64% iron, and resources of 68Mt at 63% – remarkable numbers.

What little exploration has been carried out at Yampi has suggested immense promise. Drilling will test an area of mapped, outcropping hematite mineralisation where numerous rock chip samples have returned assays above 54% iron.

The highest sample taken came in at 68%.

It’s an exciting time to be an explorer, especially one of the ilk of Nick Payne. Pantera’s exploration manager has a strong history in the region, having worked within the Yampi area for Mount Gibson.

“We’re about to start exploring an area that has seen very little modern exploration, other than prospecting and surface mapping,” he said.

“This is our chance to fully understand the geology and iron ore potential of the area.”

Payne said early drilling would target the areas where the highest-grade samples have been recorded by Pantera.

“The target area for drilling at Yampi was selected on the basis that it covers the area of highest iron grade rock chip samples from a mapped outcropping hematite horizon that is interpreted to be the contact between the Yampi formation and the Elgee Siltstone,” he said.

“This is the contact that hosts iron ore mineralisation at Koolan and Cockatoo islands, and the drill target area is also the fold hinge of a regional anticline which is thought to be the most prospective area for the development of high-grade hematite.

“This interpretation is based on the hematite mineralisation at Koolan and Cockatoo islands, which is preferentially developed in fold hinges.

“The target area also has a moderate geophysical gravity anomaly which indicates the density of the rocks in this area are higher than the surrounding rocks, and this possibly due to iron enrichment and mineralisation.”

The drill hole location plan for Yampi. Pic: Supplied.

A steady hand at the helm

Handy having experience at the helm, isn’t it? Payne’s background with Koolan Island is a factor which could give Pantera a substantial leg up once the rig hits the ground.

“I’m very familiar with the geology and iron ore mineralisation style within the area as well as the challenges faced by the remoteness, environment and climate,” he said.

“My broad background in iron ore geology has been gained from working in the Kimberley, Pilbara, the Mid West, Yilgarn and Quebec. Working across both hematite and magnetite ore deposits has given me a great understanding of how to explore for and define iron ore deposits and how to quickly understand the potential that they hold.”

The project’s geology is similar to that of the Pilbara in terms of its elevated rocky ridges and steep valleys, but its location in the Kimberley means little access to infrastructure such as roads. Not that you’d need too many – Yampi is just 4km from the coast.

Payne said he and the Pantera team were looking forward to the heli-rig hitting the ground.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Pantera Minerals, as it is not often you can be a first mover in a virtually unexplored area with such tremendous potential,” he said.

“Aside from iron ore potential, the Yampi project is also prospective for sedimentary hosted and gossanous copper mineralisation. Further to the southeast along our tenement package there is also potential for magmatic copper-nickel mineralisation within a dolerite unit.

“These will all be evaluated in due course.”

Drilling at Yampi, located 149km north of Derby is expected to begin next month.



This article was developed in collaboration with Pantera 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.