Aeris Resources Ltd (ASX:AIS) (OTCMKTS:ARSRF) is primed to deliver growth with the acquisition of the producing Cracow Gold Project last year, a strong balance sheet and diversified cashflow generation all supporting activities for the year ahead to complement the existing copper operations.
The company is actively pursuing a mergers and acquisitions strategy focused on copper and gold projects which can add value, complement the existing portfolio and transform Aeris into a mid-sized, multi-mine company.
In the near-term, the company plans to aggressively explore near mine underground targets, potential open pits and greenfields exploration at its Cracow Gold Operations in Queensland and is focused on exploration to extend the life of mine at its Tritton Copper Operations in New South Wales.
Cracow operational outlook
Aeris acquired the Cracow operations from Evolution Mining in July 2020 and considers it a great fit with the right size, the right commodity and both exploration and operational upside potential.
The mine has produced more than 1.4 million ounces over its life with a consistent production history of more than 15 years and Aeris is aiming for an initial two-year production target of 127,000-137,000 ounces and targeting a horizon of +5 years.
FY21 guidance is 70,000-75,000 ounces at an AISC of A$1,525-$1575/ounce with the company set to repay a A$30 million Acquisition Debt Facility by end FY21 and maximising cashflows (with around A$280 million in available tax losses).
Aeris plans to improve mine and mill productivity with the processing plant already demonstrating that it can better nameplate capacity and stockpiles of 900,000 ounces at 1 g/t available as ‘top up’.
The company is also focused on extending the mine life and has a A$13 million exploration budget for the first two years of ownership.
Drilling of Roses Pride has already updated the mineral resource with a 260% increase in gold ounces. It has a total reported mineral resource of 177,000 tonnes at 4.6 g/t gold for 26,000 ounces gold and mineralisation open along strike.
Further drilling is planned in first half of 2021 with the Klondyke/Royal mineral resource due in the current quarter.
The Kenneth brownfield target at Cracow underground is already being drilled, with encouraging results to date including 1-metre at 8.3 g/t and a geological review complete.
Another near-mine target, Killarney Extensions, has shown high-grade mineralisation open along strike and down dip, and returned previous drill results of 4 metres at 7.7 g/t and 1-metre at 3.6 g/t.
At the Klondyke/Royal near-mine target, recent shallow drilling has indicated its potential with results including:
- 7 metres at 11.6 g/t (true width 3.3 metres);
- 3 metres at 3.1 g/t (true width 1.7 metres);
- 4 metres at 2.9 g/t (true width 1.4 metres); and
- 6 metres at 2.5 g/t (true width 2.8 metres).
An updated mineral resource estimate is expected in the March quarter of 2021 with follow-up drilling planned in the second half of FY21.
At the Golden Plateau target around 850,000 ounces were previously mined both open pit and underground and the large mineralised system remains open down plunge.
The company is currently validating historical workings and the drill hole database with a drill program planned in Q4 2021 to target an updated mineral resource.
Aeris is also exploring ‘new spaces’ including the Ballymore, North West Corridor and Boughyard targets, looking for the next big discovery.
The company is looking forward to an exciting year ahead with multiple value catalysts in FY21.
Tritton mine life extensions
The company is mining the Tritton (>20 million tonnes copper dominant deposit) and Murrawombie (>10 million tonnes copper dominant deposit with good gold grades) underground mines at its Tritton Operations in NSW.
For 2021, Aeris is firmly focused on extending the life of the mine, with recent drilling at Murrawombie returning high-grade mineralisation, including 14.60 metres at 2.43% copper (true thickness around 7.8 metres) and 9.55 metres at 2.54% copper (true thickness around 7.2 metres).
Exploration drilling is planned for FY21 with two deep holes from surface testing 300 metres below current workings and testing down plunge extensions of the current mineral resource.
Going forward the company is prioritising bringing the higher-grade Avoca Tank underground mine into production where two drill holes are planned in second half of FY21 to test down dip extensions below the mineral resource.
Aeris is also investigating the potential for a Murrawombie open pit once underground mining is complete.
The company is planning drilling at the Budgerygar decline to upgrade confidence for future production and at South Wing a drill program has commenced testing its down plunge potential.
Aeris recently demonstrated Tritton’s upside with the Constellation discovery, where drilling returned:
- 19.95 metres at 2.41% copper, 0.64 g/t gold and 4.6 g/t silver from 197.2 metres including 5.60 metres at 1.43% copper, 0.53 g/t gold and 2.4 g/t silver and 7.55 metres at 4.71% copper, 0.99 g/t gold and 9.2 g/t silver; and
- 27.10 metres at 1.61% copper, 0.43 g/t gold and 3.4 g/t silver from 233.90 metres including 6.30 metres at 2.30% copper, 0.47 g/t gold and 4.8 g/t silver and 10.80 metres at 2.37% copper, 0.66 g/t gold and 4.9 g/t silver.
Approval has been received for 25 more holes with the phase 2 drilling program has commenced.
There has been insufficient exploration drilling to estimate a mineral resource, however, with additional drilling there is potential to increase the size of the exploration target and define a higher grade (+2% copper).
The company is also expediting drilling at the Kurrajong exploration target (3-4 million tonnes at 1.5–2% copper) towards mineral resource status and a concept study.
Looking forward, the company’s greenfields exploration is focused on discovering ‘Tritton-scale’ deposits (+10 million tonnes at >2% copper) in underexplored southern and northern sections of the tenement package.