- The IOCG project is found in the Olympic Dam province in SA
- Argonaut and Aeris hold the Torrens Copper project as a JV
- Drilling is underway as the partners hope to make discoveries at depths similar to BHP’s Oak Dam West copper discovery
What does Argonaut Resources do?
Argonaut Resources NL (ASX:ARE) holds base metals assets in Australia and Zambia and lithium projects in Canada. It is run by exploration director and CEO Lindsay Owler, a geologist and geophysicist with more than 20 years of experience in mineral exploration and development. Owler has 10 years of executive experience and has established and led mineral exploration operations in Australia, North America, Africa and South-East Asia.
What does Argonaut Resources own?
The key asset in Australia is the Torrens joint venture copper project in South Australia near projects owned by OZ Minerals Limited (ASX:OZL) and BHP Group Ltd (ASX:BHP) (LON:BHP) (NYSE:BHP) (NYSE:BBL).
Torrens project features copper-gold mineralisation and drilling of a large copper-gold anomaly the project restarted less than 3 weeks ago.
The Torrens anomaly has 28 distinct target zones and a larger footprint than BHP’s nearby Olympic Dam mine.
Gravity and magnetic targets at Torrens are about 40 kilometres northeast of BHP’s standout Oak Dam West copper discovery.
Oak Dam West is about 65 kilometres southwest of the major miner’s large Olympic Dam operations which is targeting 215,000-tonnes copper production target for the 2018-19 financial year.
Aeris is a copper producer that also has the Tritton Copper Operation in NSW.
At the South Australian exploration project Torrens, the JV partners have committed to an initial 8-10 hole, $5 million program on Lake Torrens.
They began their redrilling effort at the IOCG project in January 2019 after BHP identified a major potential new IOCG system in November 2018 in the Olympic province, at similar depths to be targeted by Torrens project drilling.
The program is part of a wider, extensive 25-30 hole $15 million program previously expected to take 18-24 months.
Drillers will target geophysical anomalies with similar properties to the Oak Dam West, Olympic Dam and Carrapateena copper deposits.
An environmentally sensitive, heli-portable drilling rig is being used and holes will be drilled to about 800-1,500 metres deep targeting dense, iron-rich rocks believed to contain copper-gold mineralisation.
Argonaut and Aeris confirmed in 2007-08 mineralisation at the major iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) system at Torrens which is found beneath several hundred metres of sedimentary cover.
Western Mining Corporation had originally identified the system in the late 1970s. One of its successors, WMC Resources, was rolled into BHP in 2005.
If Argonaut and Aeris make a discovery at Torrens, there is scope for a very large tonnage deposit and successive discoveries.
The partners have an extended history with the Torrens project and celebrated last year as the company “unshackled” the project and resolved a number of legislative issues.
In April 2016, the Federal Court refused three applicants requests for native title over Lake Torrens, with the primary decision upheld by the Full Federal Court in March 2017.
The applicants’ April 2018 motion seeking special leave to appeal was then declined by the High Court of Australia in a judgement in October 2018.
In the March 2018 quarter, the company had been granted an approval under section 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 by South Australia’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation.
The High Court ruling in December quarter of 2018 became a final green-light for the partners who then opted to go ahead with their fully-funded stage I drilling program at Torrens.
Partners Argonaut and Aeris then started the March quarter of 2019 with drilling in January 2019 and also added to Torrens exploration project ground.
In January 2019 Argonaut accepted offered terms for ELA 2018/160, a 198 square kilometre exploration licence area in three parts, with part of the land adjoining the Torrens licence and a separate part covering a Red Dam IOCG target.
Another junior company operating in the area, Auroch Minerals Ltd (ASX:AOU), holds a likely eastern extension to the Torrens JV’s gravity anomaly.
Auroch plans to drill the area dubbed the Torrens East Copper Project and views it as highly prospective.
What is Argonaut Resources’ backing?
Argonaut had $4.7 million cash at the end of December quarter 2018 and was expecting cash outflows of $859,000 in the quarter.
It had $545,000 budgeted for exploration and evaluation.
Aeris had $21.7 million of useable cash for exploration and its Tritton operation at the end of the December quarter.
The partners’ March quarter results are expected by the end of April 2019.
IOCG discoveries in the Olympic Dam province
Major miner interest in Argonaut and Aeris and representation on their share registries
Nature of discoveries at Torrens project
Exploration and financing milestone hits
CEO Lindsay Owler highlights copper-gold prospectivity
“The hunt for copper under Lake Torrens is finally underway,” Argonaut CEO Lindsay Owler said.
“The Argonaut board is thrilled to have reached this milestone after pursuing access approvals for so many years.
“The high-grade copper discovery nearby at Oak Dam West confirms what Argonaut management has always believed: the Stuart Shelf has a huge copper endowment.”