Special Report: In Barry Fitzgerald’s new regular column, True Width, he sits down with Australia’s leading resource and mining CEOs to discuss their current projects and plans for the future.

This week Barry sat down with Wade Johnson, Managing Director of Lefroy Exploration (ASX:LEX).

Lefroy is ready to kick off drilling a 1.2km drill hole to see if its Burns copper-gold discovery is as world-beating as it promises to be.

There is nothing Lefroy Exploration (ASX:LEX) Managing Director Wade Johnson likes more than getting out of Lefroy’s West Perth office to kick some rocks at the company’s exciting Burns gold-copper discovery in the Eastern goldfields.

That was just what the 30-year veteran gold geologist – including a 10-year stint with US gold heavyweight Newmont leading its Australian and Asia-Pacific exploration – was doing when Stockhead caught up with him recently.

“I’m in sunny Kalgoorlie, heading bush for 10-days. I really enjoy being out in the field talking with our geos and the drillers,’’ Johnson said. “It is all about getting the right balance between office commitments and supporting our field team.” He is as thrilled as ever by an exploration hunt.

He has good reason for that too, thanks to the game-changing drill hit at Burns early in 2021 of 38 metres grading 7.63 grams of gold a tonne and 0.56% copper. Drilling since has defined a gold-copper-silver-molybdenum system hosted in multiphase diorite intrusions and basalt, all of 75km southeast of Kalgoorlie.

Since the breakthrough drill hole Lefroy has been busy building the geological story around the Burns discovery which is somewhat unique. While porphyry gold-systems in Archaean-aged rocks are known to exist elsewhere, Burns is one out of the box for WA.

“I have never seen one in the goldfields before. It’s got the gold, it’s got the copper, it’s got some silver, and it’s got some molybdenum. And the characteristics are different to the gold systems you see in the Eastern goldfields,’’ Johnson said.

“Along the journey we’ve looked at other younger systems around the world in Chile, Peru and PNG which are low grade but huge in terms of tonnages. But we are in Archaean rocks which are 2.6 billion years old.’’

“So could we have an Archaean porphyry? We have researched and know of examples in Archaen rocks in Canada. That’s the story we are now building at Burns and we are about to drill a deep hole (1.2km) to test the concept,’’ Johnson said.

“We think we are on to something big so let’s go right down and see how far this system goes,’’ he said of the pivotal deep hole.

“I think that the work we have done over the last 12 months or so has been extremely worthwhile. We have learned a lot from that work and that’s why we have come to the conclusion that we think we are on to this. So let’s drill this 1.2km hole into the system and find out!’’ Johnson said.

“Let’s go deep and prove that the system has got legs. We love the geology its exciting and the opportunity to deliver a deposit.’’

The drilling of the hole is imminent and it will take about a month to complete. It will be closely watched by the market because of the potential for a large scale gold-copper porphyry system to be present.

The drill hole will go right across the system from west to east to test the whole porphyry/basalt rock package. Reflecting the broader importance of the drill hole to the Eastern goldfields, the deep hole has attracted co-funding support from the WA government’s Exploration Incentive Scheme (EIS).

‘’The deep diamond hole is special and it is exciting,’’ Johnson said. He added that reconnaissance aircore drilling out on Lake Randall was also resuming. “There is a vast area out there that has never been explored before and we need to place Burns in context of the regional geology.’’

Johnson also wonders what the broader implications of success with the deep hole could be, the key question being are there more porphyry systems to be found in WA?

“And have we got the magic ticket? People have overlooked them as a target in the past. But for Lefroy, we have got all the information, we know the geology for them, we are doing research on them (in conjunction with UWA’s Centre for Exploration Targeting).’’

“So is this an opportunity for Lefroy. Once we crack the nut so to speak we can go right, let’s go out and find these things elsewhere,’’ Johnson said.

Burns is part of Lefroy’s 100% owned Eastern Lefroy land package. Over at the Western Lefroy joint venture project area with Gold Fields (a 14% Lefroy shareholder), a full field aircore drilling program is continuing.

Drilling is planned to evaluate the Paddy’s Secret target identified by the program to date.

Gold Fields – owner of the 10m ounce St Ives gold camp near Lake Lefroy to the west of Burns – is in the second stage of its earn-in agreement under which it can move to 70% of the Western Lefroy project by spending $15 million by June 2024.

Not content with the strong newsflow to come from drilling at Burns and the Gold Fields joint venture, Lefroy is planning a spin-off of its nickel assets that include the Lake Johnston nickel-gold exploration ground, 120km west of Norseman, into a separately listed ASX company.

The spin-off will allow LEX to fully focus on Burns.



This article was developed in collaboration with Lefroy 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.