Windidda gold project to further expand ECR Minerals’ Australian gold portfolio
by Harry Dacres-Dixon
- ECR expand into Western Australia
- Yilgarn Craton: Australia’s premier mineral province
- An exciting prospect for ECR
- Independent research – 2.5p price target
At the beginning of last month the precious metals exploration and development company, ECR Minerals (AIM:ECR), revealed it had applied for 9 new exploration licences in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia.
Named the Windidda gold project, the applications represent another major push forward by ECR following their successful strategic financings in July and December last year. ECR is now fully funded to develop its burgeoning asset portfolio through to June 2020.
The Windidda land package will complement the company’s already extensive gold portfolio in Victoria, as they press forward with their mission to deliver shareholders the next multi-million ounce gold resource. The Windidda applications, which lie east of the town of Wiluna, cover a total of 523 graticular blocks representing roughly 1,600km2of the Yilgarn Craton.
The area is highlighted as holding the potential to contain significant Archean greenstones, which are known for hosting many of Australia’s and the world’s richest gold deposits.
Craig Brown, CEO of ECR said “I am particularly pleased to announce this strategic move into Western Australia, which, like Victoria, has exceptional gold exploration potential in a first world operating environment.”
“Greenstone-hosted gold trends in the Western Australian Yilgarn province are very tightly held and access to free ground, when it becomes available, is highly competitive.
“So it is very encouraging that ECR has managed to compile a large land position of contiguous tenements covering untested gravity-magnetic anomalies representative of potential greenstone-hosted gold trends.”
Previous exploration in the area has focused on base metal and manganese deposits only. However, pre-existing data from these projects will enhance ECR’s opportunities here.
“There was some work completed in the 1980s and 1990s but they were looking for nickel at the time, and they also found molybdenum. So one of the first things we’re going to do is go over that old information. Because nobody’s ever looked for gold here” says Brown.
This was in part due to the potentially mineralised rocks lying under cover, however ECR believes this cover to be shallow and are hopeful the drilling will be relatively straightforward. ECR plan to use aircore drilling across gravity-magnetic anomaly targets to allow for rapid assessment of the potential for gold mineralisation.
Brown says;“The best way to test it is to do aircore drilling. It’s very cheap at around A$40 or A$50 per metre, including assaying costs, so our plan is to do an aircore programme once we’ve reviewed the existing data.”
This under-cover greenstone gold exploration model has been successfully tested by Greatland Gold (LON:GGP) at its Ernest Giles project located approximately 125 kilometres east of ECR’s Windidda project.
Yilgarn Craton: Australia’s premier mineral province
Evidenced as containing the oldest crust on earth and abundant Archean greenstones, Australia’s Yilgarn Craton is one of the world’s most important gold provinces.
The region has had a history of significant gold production for over a century. Since the 1980s the Yilgarn Craton has re-emerged as one of the world’s premier gold-producing areas and the site of some exceptional exploration successes.
For three decades since 1979, the Archean Yilgarn Craton has sustained a tenfold increase in production and along with Nevada its growth has outperformed all other parts of the world. Across this period over 8000t gold (270 Moz) in the Yilgarn Craton have been discovered. To put this success into perspective, no region has ever had an equivalent period of gold discovery except for South Africa immediately after 1886 and again around 1930–1940s (Phillips et al, 2019).
The Yilgarn Craton is host to around 30% of the world’s known gold reserves and produces two-thirds of all gold mined in Australia. Unsurprisingly the area attracts more than half of Australia’s minerals exploration expenditure.
Many of the richest gold deposits in the world, including Kalgoorlie’s Golden Mile, are hosted in the Yilgarn’s greenstone belts. These exposed packages of ancient volcanic and sedimentary rocks have been metamorphosed over millions of years.
At almost 4km long, 1.5km wide and 500 metres deep, the world-famous Kalgoorlie Super Pit alone produces up to 800,000 ounces of gold per year. The Super Pit is owned by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd, a company owned 50:50 by the two of the world’s largest gold mining companies Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining.
Other significant gold deposits in the Yilgarn include Mount Charlotte, Norseman, Wiluna, Sunrise Dam, Sons of Gwalia, St Ives-Kambalda, Tarmoola and Wallaby
Greatland Gold’s Ernest Giles project, which at 2,000sq km extends over a slightly bigger area than ECR’s Windidda, is believed to hold the potential to deliver the discovery of large +5 million ounce gold camps and 5-10Mt nickel deposits. Meanwhile, Blackham Resources Ltd’s Wiluna mine has produced over 4 million ounces of gold from 20 open pits and 3 underground mines.
In addition to gold, the Yilgarn hosts approximately 20% of the world’s nickel reserves, 80% of the world’s tantalum reserves, and considerable iron ore, copper, zinc and minor lead reserves.
An exciting prospect for ECR
Located in the world-class mining region of Western Australia, known for holding Archean greenstones, ECR’s latest Windidda project looks an exciting addition to an already promising portfolio in Australia. The region’s rich history of producing significant gold deposits and continued expansion over the last 3 decades provides firm evidence of the ongoing potential for new entrants.
“It looks like very prospective territory. Everybody regards Western Australia as a very promising area to work in,” said Brown
The new site will compliment ECR’s Bailieston, Moormbool, Creswick, Timor and Avoca projects. ECR’s Bailieston and Moormbool projects received instant validation of their prospectivity in November after Newmont Gold applied for a license adjacent to Bailieston. ECR also announced last week that an initial four holes had been successfully drilled at its Creswick gold project, with additional drilling also underway at the Black Cat prospect within the Bailieston gold project area.
Independent research – 2.5p price target
This veritable hive of activity is further underpinned by the rising gold price. The yellow metal hit a 7 month high as it broke through the $1,300 mark last Friday, which helps put ECR’s paltry market cap of just £3.7m firmly in bargain territory.
This view is echoed by Hallgarten Equity Research, who in a research note published on February 12th 2019 said; “With over GBP 1.2m in the bank as at the end of last year and R&D rebates expected in from the Australian government, the company is well resourced and planned exploration only makes a relatively small dent in funds. This implies little to no dilution in the short term. Therefore we have rated ECR Minerals as a Long position with a 12-month target price of GBP 2.5 pence.”
Blackham Resources: http://blackhamresources.com.au/wiluna-mine/
Geology for Investors: https://www.geologyforinvestors.com/gold-archean-greenstone-belts/
Greatland Gold: https://greatlandgold.com/ernest-giles/
Phillip, G., J.Vearncombe, J., Eshuys, E. (2019). Gold production and the importance of exploration success: Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia. Ore Geology Reviews. Volume 105. Pp. 137-150. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169136818306425
Hallgarten Equity Research:
Many of the larger gold deposits of the Archean Yilgarn Craton (Davis et al, 2010) are associated with granite-cored domes. ‘These provided an architecture that focused fluid metals into the upper crust’s depositional sites.’