New mining finds across Australia

Yoana Cholteeva 17 February 2020 (Last Updated February 17th, 2020 10:03)

Some of the most exciting new mining discoveries in Australia include a significant lithium find in north Queensland and a copper-gold discovery by Stavely Mining in Victoria. We map these and other new finds across Australia.

New mining finds across Australia
Georgetown, North Queensland, is home to a lithium deposit uncovered by Strategic Metals Australia. Credit: gondwananet

Copper-gold: the Gossan prospect, Ararat, Victoria

In October 2019, Stavely Minerals found a significant shallow high-grade copper-gold discovery at the Gossan prospect in Victoria, after assay results from a first step-out diamond hole.

The breakthrough followed a review of drill core and other data, which showed that the project was similar to the richest copper hills at Butte, Montana and Magma, Arizona in the US.

The assay results showed 59 metres of 1.8% copper, 0.43 grams/tonne (g/t) gold and 15.4g/t silver.

Results included 8.5m of 4.38% copper, 0.87g/t gold and 32.7g/t silver and 3m of 5.66% copper, 0.29g/t gold and 4.6g/t silver.

Stavely Minerals believes that the use of a specific high-grade structurally-controlled mineralisation model applied at Butte and Magma is what prompted the success in the first diamond holes drilled.

Nickel-copper: Fraser Range, Portsmouth, Western Australia

In December 2019, Legend Mining announced a big discovery of nickel-copper at the Rockford project in the Fraser Range, Western Australia.

The find is the result of a third diamond drill hole at area D, which has been renamed Mawson, and it consists of 1.07% nickel, 0.75% copper and 0.06% cobalt from 115m.

Legend Mining believes that Mawson lies within a distinctly different stratigraphic group of rocks in the area such as Nova, Silver Knight and Octagonal, due to its stratigraphic rock layers.

The nickel-copper find also unearthed five other priority prospects, which include magmatic nickel-copper sulphide targets and volcanogenic massive sulphide style zinc-copper-silver targets.

Legend has been working with Perth-based exploration company the Creasy Group to explore the Rockford area as part of a joint venture since September 2015.

The two companies will complete structural logging of the third diamond drill hole to plan follow up drilling and to determine the exact extent of the copper-nickel mineralisation.

Lithium: Cairns, Georgetown, North Queensland

In July 2019 Strategic Metals Australia (SMA) found a new lithium deposit near Cairns, in the Georgetown province of North Queensland.

The deposit consists of multiple pegmatites and lithium mica replacement mineralisation of the host rock.

SMA announced the discovery at the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy’s lithium conference in Perth.

According to SMA, the discovery was significant for Queensland, but it requires considerable work such as drilling, modelling, resource calculation, and feasibility studies to bring the discovery to production.

Lithium: the Finniss project, Darwin, North Australia

Core Lithium discovered a 100m-plus high-grade lithium intersection in the Finnis project near Darwin in January 2020, ensuring the project construction takes place this year.

The 107m at 1.70% lithium oxide intersection was drilled as part of a recent deep reverse circulation and diamond drilling programme at the Core Lithium BP33 prospect.

The company also found two spodumene pegmatite intersections in the same location, which it believes expand the mineral resource at BP33 and will extend the mine life at Finniss.

The company expects to complete mining and feasibility studies for the Finniss project in the first half of 2020 as approvals and financing discussions are ongoing.

Current mining studies at BP33 and the nearby Carlton prospect highlight opportunities to increase mining efficiency and further extend the mine.

Gold: the Gruyere mine, Great Victoria Desert , Western Australia

New gold deposits, which were discovered in the Great Victoria Desert, 650km north-east of the historic gold rush town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in 2013, gave a start to Australia’s biggest new gold mine – the Gruyere mine.

The area had been almost abandoned by explorers until the 2013 discovery, according to ABC.

The Gruyere mine, which is co-owned by Gold Road Resources and Gold Fields, officially opened in 2019 and poured its first gold in June of the same year.

The mine contains an estimated 3.9 million oz in reserves, bringing back high hopes for gold mining in the region. At full production the project is aiming to produce around 300,000 ounces of gold annually over the next 12 years.

Development of the new Gruyere mine involved the construction of a sealed airstrip to fly in 350 mine workers, a new mining camp, and a 200km-long gas pipeline to bring natural gas inland. The new infrastructure and increased accessibility could lead to more exploration and new discoveries in the region.

Gold: Beta Hunt mine, Kambalda, Western Australia

A rare gold discovery was made in September 2018 in the Beta Hunt mine near the town of Kambalda, Western Australia which secured more than A$15m in value of the metal over four days.

The yield, which local geologists called a “once-in-a-lifetime discovery” and a “mother lode”, turned up a specimen weighing 90kg and covered in 2,300 oz of gold with an approximate value of A$3.8m Australian dollars.

The gold-encrusted rocks of the so-called ‘Father’s Day Vein’ were found about 500m below the surface, in an area three metres wide and three metres high.

In October 2019, Canada-based mine owner RNC Minerals provided an update on the continuing gold discoveries at the Beta Hunt mine, reporting that around 3,200 oz of coarse gold had been recovered since the vein was discovered.

Since the 1970s, Beta Hunt has mainly produced nickel with little gold mining taking place.

The unprecedented development at Beta Hunt came just as RNC Minerals, was in the final stages of selling the mine.

Graphite: Springdale project, Hopetoun, Western Australia

Following first drilling in 2016, Comet Resources announced a significant graphite discovery at the Springdale project near Hopetoun, Western Australia in April that year.

The deposits were found within the southern margins of the Yilgarn Craton and constituted part of the Albany-Frazer Orogen, which hosts the historic Halberts Graphite mine near Munglinup.

The results from the drilling programme included hits of 10m at 9.7% graphitic carbon from 23m depth and 7m at 12.6% graphite.

This was followed by another discovery in the Eastern Zone in 2017.

Between December 2017 and February 2018, Comet Resources continued exploration with 93 shallow, reconnaissance style, RC holes for a total of 5320m, which also confirmed some new high-grade graphite horizon in the northern fold closure known as the Northern Zone.

Cobalt: Polinga Project, Eyre Peninsula, Southern Australia

In March 2017, Archer Materials (previously Archer Exploration) identified cobalt in six drill holes at its Polinga Project on the Eyre Peninsula, where the company had been analysing samples from previous exploration.

Executive chairman Greg English shared that previous explorers had not looked at cobalt possibilities as focussed on zinc and manganese. The current owner’s success came after it assayed many of the drill samples and drill pulp that previous explorers had left behind.

The company has now built several new high-grade tenement holdings at its cobalt projects at Ketchowla and Broken Hill in preparation for more discoveries.

The find of high-grade cobalt at the exploration site in South Australia has come when prices for the industrial metal have soared to record highs as a result of supply shortage.

Cobalt: Munarra Gully Project, Cue, Western Australia

In July 2019, Rumble Resources announced the discovery of two zones of high-grade cobalt mineralisation with anomalous platinum at its Munarra Gully Project, located 50km of the town of Cue within the Murchison Goldfields, Western Australia.

Two additional traverses have confirmed continuity of the high-grade cobalt with platinum mineralisation.

A new zone of shallow-grade cobalt with platinum anomalism has been discovered under cover 3km to the southwest of the White Rose Prospect. The cobalt-platinum mineralisation is completely open, with up to 10km strike potential.

As a result, Rumble has acquired two full-ownership exploration licences for a northern strike extension of the copper-gold mineralised corridor that extends over 9km.

Iron Ore: Grants Iron Ore Basin, Mingary, South Australia

Havilah Resources reported the discovery of a significant iron ore deposit in the Grants Iron Ore Basin in South Australia at the end of 2018.

A reverse circulation drilling approach has intersected a consistently thick iron formation in multiple drillholes over an area of at least 3.5km2 in the western part of the basin, according to Havilah.

The thickest drill intersection of 297m at 20.6% iron ended in mineralisation.

According to Havilah technical director Chris Giles, the drilling programme confirmed the original exploration concept for the existence of a thick, relatively shallow, iron formation.

GFG Alliance’s SIMEC Mining has performed and funded the drilling programme at Havilah’s Maldorky and Grants iron ore projects as part of a commercial agreement between the two companies.