Will Helix’s Cobar copper project be a company-maker?
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Mining entrepreneur Mark Creasy hopes Helix has finally made a company-making discovery in Cobar, writes Barry FitzGerald in his weekly Garimpeiro column.
Hardy explorer Helix Resources has just kicked off a deep-drilling program to prove what could be NSW’s next copper mine at its Collerina discovery near the historic copper-gold mining centre of Cobar.
Collerina sits on a known but lightly explored copper belt to the east of Cobar.
The belt is best known for the Tritton copper mine, owned by Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS) to the north, and the Tottenham copper deposits owned by Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR) to the south.
Helix (ASX:HLX) got the market’s interest up in Collerina when it reported a 14m intersection grading an impressive 4.4 per cent copper from 80m in the second hole drilled on the property, confirming its exploration techniques were on the money.
The new drilling program is chasing high-grade extensions at depth, as well as new zones within the broader Collerina mineralised trend.
The overall aim is to build a resource base at Collerina capable of supporting a stand-alone mining operation.
Given its proximity to Cobar with its established infrastructure and mining service industry, Helix probably needs to prove up 150,000 tonnes of copper.
Success would be a welcome reward for Helix which has been searching for a company-making discovery after more than 30 years as a listed explorer.
It has enjoyed fleeting success in the past in gold and platinum but each time it was decided the running on the projects was best left to others in return for royalties, cash payments or shares, leaving Helix to focus on finding its company-maker.
The strategy has had a major benefit.
Somewhat remarkably for a company listed on the ASX back in 1986, Helix has “only’’ 354m shares on issue. It means that leverage to continued success at Collerina is as good as it gets.
At its current share price of around 3.4c, Helix is valued at $12m. It is funded for the new push in the Cobar district with$1.3 million cash on hand.
Cheering on the push is Australia’s most successful “prospector’’ Mark Creasy.
He has been a long term supporter of Helix’s exploration efforts and his Yandal Investments was last listed holding 8 per cent of the company.
Creasy has had a number of big pay days over the years. In 1994 he collected $130 million from former high flyer Joe Gutnick for gold leases on the Yandal belt in Western Australia.
And then there was the $500 million collect in 2014 when the company that made the big Nova nickel discovery on ground picked up from Creasy was acquired by Independence Group (IGO).
Helix is a long way off from delivering Creasy another big pay day.
But the new drilling program at Collerina just might cause some overdue excitement in the stock.
To put the upside potential – and that is all it is at this stage – into context, Collerina shares similarities with Aeris’s Tritton operation in terms of the style of mineralisation, its thickness, and grade.
Tritton’s initial resource was put at 14 million tonnes grading 2.7 per cent copper (and 0.3g/tonne gold) for 380,000t of contained copper.
Helix’s new drilling program will go a long way to confirming whether or not Collerina — and other targets in the broader Collerina area — has the same sort of potential.
As might be suspected from an explorer that has survived for more than three decades without blowing up its capital base, Helix has more eggs in its basket.
Again in the Cobar region, Helix has its foot on what it believes could be an emerging gold camp some 35km south-east of the 100,000 oz a year Peak gold operations of Canada’s New Gold.
Helix is also excited by the early stage base metals potential of its newly acquired Mundarlo project, 20km south-west of Gundagai.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.