BHP has identified a potential new iron oxide, copper and gold (IOCG) mineralised system near its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project in South Australia.

The discovery was made on BHP’s exploration licence 5941 as part of the company’s new copper exploration programme.

The mineralised system is situated 65km to the south east of Olympic Dam.

In a statement, the company confirmed that four diamond drill holes, totalling 5346m, intersected copper, gold, uranium and silver mineralisation of IOCG style.

Based on laboratory assay results, it was found that the downhole mineralisation intercepts range between 0.5% and 6% copper with associated gold, uranium and silver metals. The results are currently being evaluated.

BHP further stated that the exploration project is at an early stage and that further drilling is required to assess the size, quality and continuity of the mineralised intersections.

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The company intends to undertake additional drilling next year.

In a statement, BHP said: “BHP’s copper exploration program has targeted the Stuart Shelf in South Australia as part of a focused global programme which includes Ecuador, Canada, Peru, Chile and the south west of the US.

“Copper and oil are the main focus of BHP’s exploration programmes in order to replenish our resource base and enhance our portfolio.”

“Copper and oil are the main focus of BHP’s exploration programmes in order to replenish our resource base and enhance our portfolio.”

In October this year, BHP reached an agreement to raise its interest in SolGold, which is the majority owner and operator of the Cascabel porphyry copper-gold project in Ecuador, to 11.2%.

Olympic Dam is a poly-metallic mine comprising underground and surface operations. The mine also operates an integrated processing facility.