Which Aussie microcap is dialling in on PNG’s next big porphyry copper-gold discovery?
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At the Wabag project in PNG, junior explorer Gold Mountain Ltd (ASX:GMN) believes it is sitting on a porphyry giant — the kind of mineral discovery that can completely re-rate a company.
Take successful ASX-listed porphyry hunters Hot Chili (ASX:HCH), Stavely Minerals (ASX:SVY) and Alkane Resources (ASX:ALK) which are up 270 per cent, 280 per cent and 170 per cent over the past 12 months, respectively.
Low grade but gigantic, porphyry deposits are multi-generational company makers.
The Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG), for example, has produced an incredible 5 million tonnes of copper, 15 million ounces of gold and 33 million ounces of silver since production kicked off in 1984.
In fact, PNG hosts one of the highest densities of tier one copper-gold deposits in the world, including Ok Tedi, Frieda River and Porgera, just to name a few.
Just look at this:
The mineral-rich Papuan Mobile Belt (in orange, above) is where ASX-listed junior Gold Mountain Ltd is dialling in on PNG’s next big porphyry discovery at the flagship 2500sqkm Wabag project.
Gold Mountain picked up the first of these unexplored PNG tenements in 2014, right from under the nose of $190 billion market cap miner BHP (ASX:BHP).
“If BHP – which is only interested in Tier 1 assets — is after Wabag it means something is there,” newly appointed Gold Mountain chief executive officer Tim Cameron says.
“BHP had previously held an Exploration Licence Application (ELA) over the area but it was later surrendered around the time the Ok Tedi dam disaster occurred.”
Ex BHP Cameron is an experienced miner. In the early 90s he was part of the 20-strong ‘start-up’ team which drove the globally significant Ekati project – Canada’s first surface and underground diamond mine — from exploration through to production.
Ever seen the show ‘Ice Road Truckers’? That was built for Ekati and others, Cameron says.
“At one stage in the early days I was involved in the building of those ice roads,” he says.
“It’s really satisfying to say I was part of the initial start-up of a mine. It was an incredible experience.”
He wants to do it all again with Gold Mountain. Wabag represents the first time that Cameron – who has been involved in numerous projects with BHP and also as a consultant — has felt truly excited about a project since Ekati.
“I recently visited the drill site for the first time, examined the drill core, and talked to countless people,” he says.
“I honestly believe that we are onto something massive here. That’s why this project is so exciting.”
In 2018, the second drill hole (MCD002) of a two-hole program at the Mongae Creek prospect (above) hit wide zones of copper mineralisation, including 55m at 0.11 per cent copper, 103m from surface.
This was a crucial moment, because it indicated that Gold Mountain was closing in on the target porphyry copper-gold deposit.
Further analyses on the core samples from both MCD001 and MCD002 confirmed the explorer was in a porphyry system.
Attention then turned to the nearby Monoyal prospect, where the copper in soil anomaly was 4.5 times larger and twice the grade of Mongae Creek.
In October, Gold Mountain commenced a nine-hole, 3,500m diamond drilling program at Monoyal. The first two holes (MCD003 and MCD004) have been completed, and assay results are due very soon.
“We are expecting the results back middle to late January on the two holes just finished,” Cameron says.
“We have a very strong feeling that we are onto something big.”