An application under section 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 has been approved by South Australia’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation.
This will allow the Torrens Joint Venture to proceed to a major exploration drilling program comprising up to 70 deep diamond drill holes covering an area of 120 square kilometres.
“End of 20-year process”
Lindsay Owler, chief executive officer, said: “This final approval marks the end of a 20-year process to gain access to the giant Torrens anomaly for a major exploration drilling program.
"Authorisation was only pursued so doggedly because of the exceptional geological properties of the target.”
Shares opened at $0.028, a 28% increase on Friday’s close.
Torrens joint venture is 30%-owned by Argonaut, which is managing the project, and 70% by Aeris Resources Limited (ASX:AIS).
The aboriginal heritage authorisation requires the Torrens Joint Venture to stay in close consultative contact with two aboriginal groups.
Owler said: “The section 23 consultation process has brought local aboriginal groups and the joint venture together in a pleasing way.
"Efforts by traditional owners, legal representatives, government officials and the Torrens JV team to protect and preserve aboriginal heritage have been sincere and productive.”
It follows approval of the exploration program for environment protection and rehabilitation, and the granting of Native Title Access to enter and undertake exploration.
Footprint larger than Olympic Dam
The Torrens coincident magnetic and gravity anomaly has a footprint considerably larger than that of Olympic Dam.
Drilling by Western Mining Corporation in the late 1970s and by the Torrens Joint Venture in 2007 and 2008 confirmed the existence of a major IOCG mineralising system beneath several hundred metres of sedimentary cover.
More drilling is required to intercept the modelled copper-gold mineralisation.
In the event of a discovery, the Torrens anomaly has the scale to host a world-class copper-gold deposit.
In its role as manager of the joint venture, Argonaut’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Kelaray Pty Ltd intends to conduct an airborne gravity survey this month, which is expected to improve the targeting of drill holes.
Kelaray aims to start the drilling program around the end of the March 2018 quarter.
Exploration licences granted
Argonaut was recently granted two exploration licences contiguous with the project.
The licences cover a confirmed IOCG target in an area known as Murdie and a second anomaly at West Lake Torrens.
They cover 1,015 square kilometres and are immediately south and east of the Torrens project.