Can gold explorer Norwest Minerals replicate Vango’s success at Marymia?

Mar 9, 2020 | Media

Special Report: Vango (ASX:VAN) has made another high-grade gold discovery near the northern boundary of its Marymia project in mid-west WA. Next door, on the same mineralised sequence, is ~$9.5m market cap Norwest Minerals (ASX:NWM) and its underexplored Bulgera project.

In early March, Vango hit a 7m-wide intersection grading 103.6 grams per tonne (g/t) gold at the new PHB-1 discovery — between the old K1 and K2 pits — starting at just 48m depth. It’s just the latest in a string of high-grade hits for this advanced gold explorer.

Norwest Mineral’s recently acquired Bulgera project boundary is just a stone’s throw away.

“That new discovery at PHB-1 was great news for us,” Norwest chief executive Charles Schaus told Stockhead.

“Vango calls it the ‘mine sequence’ – that’s where they are drilling and getting their high-grade gold intercepts.

“This mine sequence ‘offsets’ and the same geology runs through Bulgera.”


Norwest Minerals Plutonic Well geology

After acquiring the project in mid-2019, Norwest has quickly established an initial 65,000oz resource based on old, shallow drilling around the existing open pits.

A subsequent maiden drill program has returned grades up to 29.3g/t below and along strike of the old open pits.

But the project remains underexplored at depth.

Most of the old drilling at Bulgera has been in the shallow, sub-50m from surface range. Just 140 of the 422 historic drill holes at Bulgera extended below 50 vertical metres. Only eight penetrate below the 100 vertical metre level.

The Marymia ground was largely untested below 100m depth before Vango moved in around 2018.

“And below 100m is where Vango are now getting most of their joy,” Schaus says.

“The Trident deposit, for example, is 400,000oz at 8g/t – I’d love to have one of those at Bulgera.”

After about three years of successful drilling, Marymia now has the potential to become one of Australia’s largest high-grade gold production projects. Vango’s share price is up almost 200 per cent over this period.

“We want to achieve something similar — and the only way you get there is by drilling,” Schaus says.

A near-term production target

The immediate plan is to grow Bulgera’s shallow 65,000oz resource and then weigh up some early production options, like toll treatment or a small heap leach operation.

A consultant geologist is currently incorporating Norwest’s newest drilling and geological data into an updated resource model. A resource update is due later this month.

“We would love to grow [this shallow resource] and ultimately have 250,000oz in our back pocket,” Schaus says.

“I would like to approach the neighbouring mills like Plutonic with a respectable number of ounces.

“If they do the right [toll treating] deal with us, excellent. If not, we are happy to step back, keep drilling and establish something big enough to potentially process ourselves.”