Who says it’s hard to make money in the mining industry?
Shares in Greatland Gold Ltd (LON:GGP) have more than tripled in value since December, following more extremely encouraging news from the ongoing drill campaign at Havieron in Western Australia. And for those who haven’t quite caught up yet – and there can’t be many – this isn’t the familiar pattern of a junior explorer that was once worth close to nothing now being worth just slightly more than nothing.
No, Greatland Gold is now capitalised at a handsome £200mln on the Aim market of the London stock exchange, up more than fifty-fold on where it was five years ago. That’s right, the shares have risen by 50 times, and according to some City analysts there could be more to come.
After all, Greatland’s partner at Havieron, the Australian gold champion Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX:NCM), is drilling the ground hell for leather, with between 20,000 and 30,000 metres planned over the next two quarters. Most junior miners can only dream of exploration taking place with such intensity, but Greatland Gold has got it going on in spades.
Already, the dimensions of Havieron are becoming clearer. As currently identified, the main mineralised body looks to be around 450 metres long by around 150 metres wide and around 600 metres vertical. That works out at more than 100mln tonnes of mineralised rock and, although there is no specific resource number yet available, even a conservative grade would put the deposit at more than four million ounces.
Broker Numis, which has just upgraded its price target for Greatland as the shares have shot past the previous number, reckons there could be upwards of five and a half million ounces at Havieron, and that’s before taking into account as yet unexplored areas to the northwest which are thought to contain significant further mineralisation.
All told, it’s no wonder Newcrest is pushing ahead so energetically at Havieron, and it’s no wonder that investors are at last beginning to show interest in the story. But there’s plenty more to come.
“The market is just waking up,” said Numis from commentary a couple of days ago.
“Whilst the shares have performed strongly and are up 60% in the year-to-date, we believe that this is just the market beginning to catch up with the very positive drill results generated over the past 12 months.”
Among the drill results that Numis highlighted were 136 metres at 2.9 grams per tonne gold and 0.6% copper, and 73 metres at 3.2 grams gold and 0.67% copper. These are indeed nice results, but they are by no means exceptional at Havieron – in fact, allowing for the idiosyncrasies of individual drill holes, they are much closer to being the norm than they are to being outliers.
Hence, the A$65mln spend from Newcrest and the commitment to put a definitive resource number around the project by the end of the year.
“In our view these results and Newcrest Mining’s level of ongoing commitment are indicative of a project that is going to get developed,” says Numis.,
“We retain the view that Greatland Gold is one of the most exciting exploration projects globally.”
And it’s not just that the intercepts at Havieron are long, rich and frequent, as Greatland’s chief executive Gervaise Heddle explains.
“Within the very broad intervals - sometimes hundreds of metres of gold and copper mineralisation - we often have significant twenty-to-thirty metre intervals of higher grade mineralisation,” he says.
“That’s good because it gives Newcrest a lot more options. High grade like that can boost the economics and lead to improved confidence in the economics in terms of the payback time, which is often of crucial importance in the early stages of a project.”
It all adds up to what Heddle calls “robust levels of confidence” around the project. Will a development decision eventually get taken? – no one can say with certainty either way at the moment. But all the signs are good: the mineralisation keeps on coming as fast as Newcrest keeps on drilling, and you can’t ask for more than that.
In the meantime, not content with all that, Greatland is heading into the wider Paterson Range area in which Haveiron is located to see if it can find a second project of equal significance?
What are the chances of one junior company landing two projects on such a scale? Small, in a way, just as they are for a company to land only one project, and it’s always possible that if there is a second Havieron in the Paterson it might be on Rio Tinto’s ground or someone else’s.
But Greatland itself has got a large footprint in the region and it’s got a track record of success. The company has identified several high priority targets at Scallywag, an area only a short drive from Havieron, and preliminary work at Goliath is showing similar geophysical and geochemical signatures to those seen in the early work at Havieron.
There’s money in the bank, and more likely to come in from warrants, so Greatland has got the wherewithal to be getting busy. And that in turn means the newsflow is likely to come in thick and fast year this year, both from Newcrest’s regular quarterly updates, and from Greatland’s own drilling programmes.
“We’re in a strong position,” says Heddle, “We have all the key elements in place and now is the time to really push forward and build upon the momentum we have created over the past few years.”
All the key ingredients for success are falling into place. It now remains to be seen what the rest of 2020 brings.