Special Report: A wealth of infrastructure around the Bulgera gold project gives Norwest Minerals at least three short-term development options.
Historic mining at Bulgera – when the gold price hovered around $US500/oz — totalled 23,400oz from four open pits. But this barely scratched the surface.
For starters, a fairly extensive exploration database came with the project; mainly near surface drilling down to about 100m.
That puts Norwest (ASX:NWM) on the front foot because it is about to announce a maiden resource without having drilled a single hole.
This initial resource represents near term cashflow for Norwest, which stands to benefit from nearby infrastructure including two gas-fired power stations, overhead transmission power lines, bore fields, airstrip and camp facilities.
The project is also a stone’s throw from the Tier 1 +5moz Plutonic operation and its gold-hungry mill.
Chief executive Charles Schaus says this established infrastructure gives the explorer a number of early development options.
“There is the opportunity for us to sell ore to a producer like Plutonic, which is only 47km up the road,” he says.
“We know that [the Plutonic mill] is running well and truly below capacity, and there is already a haul road in place.”
But there are alternatives. Norwest could bring in a mobile processing plant and hook it into existing power fairly cheaply.
“That could be an initial option for us – running the low-grade gold ore through a portable plant,” Schaus says.
Another cheap option is heap leaching.
“Again — roads are in, water bores are in, and we have access to power,” Schaus says.
“We have already contacted different groups that could provide either a mobile processing plant or heap leaching expertise.”
Drilling for the Big One
This free dig material represents crucial early cashflow, but a bigger prize awaits.
Barely any previous drilling at Bulgera went below 100m, but the extensive project database does show the projected positions of multiple gold lodesbelow the shallow pits.
These ‘walk up’ drilling targets in the pits make new gold resources a lot easier to unearth using modern exploration methods.
But the big upcoming drilling program won’t be constrained to these areas. There are targets all along Bulgera’s 5km strike of the gold-rich Plutonic Well Greenstone Belt.
“[Neighbouring explorer] Vango Mining are now drilling down to the south into a thick ~40m transported cover; below that cover Vango is hitting high-grade gold,” Schaus says.
“We have an equivalent area renowned for having this thick cover which effectively ‘masks’ the mineralised rock.”
Norwest plans to run this deeper drilling and a scoping study to look at the initial production options simultaneously.
“It’s going to be a two-pronged approach; get into production as quickly as possible, and undertake the deeper exploration drilling below 100m,” Schaus says.