Something big is happening at the Diamba Sud gold project
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Special Report: Senegal-focused explorer Chesser Resources is poking the edges of a high-grade gold discovery along the prolific Senegal-Mali Shear Zone — a part of the world where a 2.6-million-ounce gold deposit is considered ‘small’.
There aren’t many exploration companies with a history of returning cash to shareholders; Chesser Resources (ASX:CHZ) is one of them.
In the late 2000s, Chesser made a gold discovery at the Kestanelik project in Turkey with an indicated resource of 236,000oz. It was was sold to a local conglomerate for $40m in 2014.
$33m – or 15c per share – went straight back into shareholder pockets.
Now Chesser is hoping to repeat (or surpass) that success at the flagship Diamba Sud gold project in Senegal.
Acquired in 2017, Diamba Sud is a greenfields (essentially unexplored) project along the western side of the prolific but underexplored Senegal-Mali Shear Zone (SMSZ), home to some truly monstrous gold mines.
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The shear zone is the source of the deep gold-bearing fluid. However, it is the splays coming off the shear zone that provide the ‘open space’ to allow these deposits to form.
Like all these big mines in the region, Diamba Sud is located on ‘splays’ off the main shear zone.
There’s no rock outcropping to help guide geologists over much of the western side of the SMSZ, and traditional early stage exploration methods like soil sampling often don’t work.
“During West Africa’s wet season there’s a large amount of gold mobilisation,” Chesser managing director Mike Brown told Stockhead.
“This means that in covered and laterite terrains you typically you don’t get the concentrations of gold in soil (a signpost to deposits deeper down) that you do in places like Western Australia.
“You actually have to get into the top of the weathered bedrock itself, which requires auger drilling.”
The shallow sub-25m augur drilling method has been utilised r by companies along the eastern side of the SMSZ in Mali, such as Oklo Resources, but only recently on the western side, and with great success.
Right next door to Diamba Sud is Barrick Gold’s Bambadji joint venture with IAMGOLD, where maiden drilling is about to kick off following auger drilling.
“Various big companies like Anglogold Ashanti, IAMGOLD, and Randgold had conducted soil sampling at Bambadji in the past and mixed responses haven’t led to a discovery,” Brown says.
“Barrick chief executive Mark Bristow has actually mentioned the Bambadji JV by name in both the Q3 and the Q4 earnings reports conference calls.
Using augur drilling to define a big anomaly of its own, Chesser made a big greenfields discovery called ‘Area A’ in 2019, less than 1km from the Bambadji tenement boundary.
First and second pass drilling hit shallow, thick and high grades like 18m at 5.61 grams per tonne (g/t) gold from 6m, and 21m at 6.62g/t gold from 53m.
In January 2020 Chesser announced initial very positive results from the first diamond holes on the property, confirming a discovery in fresh rock. These included 16m at 8.51 g/t gold from 86m, including 10m at 13.11g/t gold from 86m.
In March 2020, Chesser announced final results, and more importantly, deeper diamond drilling had hit the potential source of all this shallow gold.
Results included a 21m intersection grading 2.29m, 156m from surface.
Now Chesser has two potential big volume targets zones at Area A, Brown says – the shallow stuff that runs horizontally, and this deeper ‘feeder’ zone:
Follow-up drilling will follow that feeder along strike and look for extensions to that shallow gold, Brown says.
“We have only tested the northern tip of a potential feeder structure, which is coincident with a [1km-long] auger anomaly,” he says.
This anomaly runs straight into Bambadji:
“The alteration assemblages are the same seen in the large mines on the eastern side of the SMSZ, and the intensity, thickness and continuity suggest there’s a large system present,” Brown says.
“Everyone is really excited — we just have to get the drill rig down there and start testing.”
Chesser has also defined the less advanced Area D and Western Splay targets – which Brown believes could be even bigger than Area A.
“We have multiple targets on the property which is where it gets exciting,” he says.
“The geochemical anomaly over Area D is actually stronger than what we are seeing in Area A.
“Western Splay features a strong geochemical anomaly and artisanals which are mining 12g/t dirt in fresh rock, which is a very encouraging sign.”
Something big is happening at Diamba Sud, Brown says. “The early signals are that we are onto a very large system.”