The Pilbara is known to geologists as the place in northwestern Australia where the oldest rocks on earth, almost three billion years old, come to the surface. The 350 by 700 kilometers area became famous through the discovery of the gold-bearing conglomerates of Novo and Artemis, in 2017. Iron ore has been found on a large scale in the region for decades.
It seems that the Pilbara has many more undiscovered resources. In the Paterson area, in eastern Pilbara, two new, promising discoveries have recently been made. Greatland Gold has drilled a number of holes in the Havierion project, with impressive results. The highlight hole returned almost 5 grams of gold per tonne of rock over a distance of 275 meters, at the end of last year. To put this in perspective: the monster discovery of Aurelian Resources in Ecuador, in 2006, started with a similar hole. We therefore immediately bought a first position, and now own more than 1% of this London-listed company.
The project is only 40 kilometers east of the Telfer gold mine, just around the corner from a geological perspective. This mine, which is now on its final gasp, had a deposit of 27 million ounce of gold and is operated by Newcrest Mining. Once the similarities in the geological setting of these two projects were recognized, an indication that Havieron might be Telfer’s sister, Newcrest proposed to Greatland to become the operator of the project, and to bear all its exploration costs. In exchange, Newcrest can earn in to a 75% interest in the project. As a result, Greatland can now concentrate on a number of other promising targets.
This is a great deal, especially for Newcrest. Despite the old Telfer mine being on its last legs, gold production in the Paterson area might possibly continue for much longer. The ore can be transported relatively cheaply by truck. At the same time, a new mill does not have to be built for Havieron and this makes the project a lot more economically viable. Savings here quickly add up to half a billion dollars. The small print indicates that Newcrest will also benefit from any new discoveries on the Greatland property. Opportunistically, Artemis Resources claimed the area around Havieron last year. This company has already identified a number of potential targets, based on geophysical surveys, and intends to start drilling.
The second major discovery in the Paterson area was made by Rio Tinto. For months, there had been speculation that Rio Tinto had made a special copper discovery, more than 100 kilometers to the north. The company announced last month that this Winu project is rich in copper, gold and silver. Mineralization is close to the surface, but has the potential to continue to depth. There is also potential both to the east, north and south. To provide a definitive proof of continuity, much more will be drilled this year.
All the aforementioned discoveries have put the Pilbara at the centre of attention. It is abundantly clear that many more metal deposits will be discovered in this area in the coming years.