Golden State float mixes old gold with new tech
Mining & Resources
Tim Treadgold is a Perth-based journalist who has been covering the resources sector for more than 40 years.
Gold floats haven’t performed well this year, burdened by a falling gold price and wary investors.
But every now and then a new company appears on the scene with a gold discovery theory that catches the eye of even the most jaded observer.
Being a little different — thanks to the helping hand of technology once confined to the oil exploration industry — is what makes Golden State Mining worth a look as it makes its way through the ASX listing process.
The two keys to the company are a big footprint on a patch of WA’s outback which has been the site of multiple rich, but small, goldmines, and a seismic survey which might have unlocked the secret behind the generation of the gold.
If correct — and the proof will be in the drilling — Golden State might be able to re-write the history of a location which has baffled generations of smart explorers and big-name mining companies, including Newcrest and St Barbara.
Cue, a mining and pastoral centre on the Great Northern Highway that connects Perth with its north-east interior, has never had the reputation of other WA goldmining centres such as Kalgoorlie, Meekatharra and Mt Magnet, despite yielding seven million ounces over the past 120 years.
Here’s how Stockhead covered recent gold floats:
But Cue (see map below) has seen its share of gold rushes since the first discoveries of 1892 with a number of multi-million-ounce mines developed, including Big Bell, Day Dawn, and Great Fingall.
Prolific as those mines were the ground immediately to the north of Cue was better known for its smaller gold deposits scattered around the town without anyone quite understanding the genesis of the gold, a key step in locating the source and in knowing whether there is the potential for a major development.
Modern technology could provide the answer with Golden State benefiting from the re-processing of a seismic survey conducted by the WA Government as part of a State-wide probe of deep geological structures.
Michael Moore, Golden State’s managing director, said the area north of Cue, where the company has its most prospective position, had been a puzzle to past explorers because the gold appeared in narrow seams within a large granite structure, a rock-type not normally associated with gold in WA which is generally found in a rock type called greenstone.
The question which no-one has been able to answer is how did gold seams, routinely grading 15 grams of gold a tonne, get there, and had something happening at depth where the gold originated and if so was it possible that thicker and richer deposits could be found in greenstone under the granite.
Until recently, the only way to test that theory was drilling, not an easy job when the surface rock is granite, which is why most holes put down by earlier explorers only tested depths of 50-to-100 metres, without much success
Technology, specifically a seismic survey of the sort used to discover pools of oil, might be the breakthrough needed to put Cue back on the gold map.
While not a totally novel application of seismic science, which involves sending pulses of energy into the earth and measuring reaction time to map deep structures, the technique is best-known in oil exploration because it can provide a picture of what lies at extreme depths.
Northern Star, one of Australia’s most successful gold producers, is a recent and very successful example of a goldminer using seismic surveys to expand its mines.
In the case of Golden West, the seismic breakthrough came in an unusual way when a specialist technology service company used by Moore to reinterpret the government data called several weeks earlier than expected because it had found more than was expected.
“It was assumed that the granite near the surface provided a thick cover over potential gold-bearing structures at depth,” Moore said.
“But that isn’t what was seen with seismic reflectors (returned signals) occurring at a relatively shallow depth.
“It appears that the surface granite to the north of Cue where we have our tenements might be a thin, sheet-like body, rather than a large structure with significant depth.”
Advances in technology can be the key to a fresh understanding of old minefields and can trigger a burst of development activity with the remarkable success of the Canadian company, Kirkland Lake at Victoria’s Fosterville goldmine a recent example of new tricks in an old mine.
Proving Golden State’s “greenstone under granite” theory will require drill testing and that’s what Moore plans to do as soon as he has the funds from the float which is seeking to raise a relatively modest $4.5 million in its prospectus which is scheduled to close next week with a proposed listing date of October 12.