AuKing shares rise despite Tanzanian drilling woes

Shares in junior explorer AuKing Mining (ASX:AKN) have spiked on the final trading day of 2023 despite the company facing myriad drilling issues at its Mkuju Uranium Project in Tanzania. 

AuKing has reported fresh uranium results from auger drilling in the project area, with some of the top hits including 4m @ 598 parts per million (ppm) triuranium octoxide (U3O8), including 1m @ 1,896 ppm U3O8; 2m @ 110 ppm U3O8; and 2m @ 169 ppm U3O8. 

However, these results are among just 7 uranium hits from AuKing’s 55-hole auger program — the deepest of which was drilled to 18m. 

AuKing believes this is not a reflection of a lack of mineralisation in the area but rather comes from an inability to drill the auger holes to their planned depths. 

The company says it planned to drill each hole to 30m because based on historical drilling in the area, uranium mineralisation is likely present at this depth. Nevertheless, the auger rig experienced ‘several mechanical faults and other problems’ after it arrived at the Mkuju site in August 2023, and these issues meant it could not drill any hole to the desired 30m depth. 

As such, AuKing’s exploration team believes that the major reason why most of the auger holes did not hit any uranium mineralisation was simply because they were not deep enough.

In any case, the auger rig has now been removed from the site and is undergoing a major overhaul in the city of Dar es Salaam

Yet, this was not the end of AuKing’s drilling woes; the company planned to complete a handful of diamond holes to 100m depth using a track-mounted rig in early November, but the rig only arrived at the site in mid-November and also faced mechanical breakdowns once it had made its way to the first drill hole location. 

As such, AuKing only started diamond drilling the week before Christmas and completed just 51m before its team left the site for the holiday break. AuKing says it plans to return to the site over the next few days to continue drilling, but it’s expecting heavy rainfalls in the coming weeks, meaning this might not be possible. 

Despite all this, AuKing says its recent drilling work still suggests that the Mkuju project could be a ‘major extension’ of the nearby Nyota Uranium Project, which was sold in 2011 for $1.16 billion. 

Shares in AuKing were trading 9.3% higher at $0.047 as of 12:40pm AEDT on 29 December 2023. 

AuKing CEO Paul Williams says despite the ‘frustrating’ drilling issues, the company’s exploration team has established the existence of areas of ‘significant’ uranium mineralisation across more than 1,000km-square of licence holdings within Mkuju. 

“We have learned a lot about the operating conditions at Mkuji in recent months and established the basis for a significant and systematic drilling program in 2024.” 

“We have learned a lot about the operating conditions at Mkuji in recent months and established the basis for a significant and systematic drilling program in 2024″

Alongside its Tanzanian assets, AuKing also owns an 80% interest in the Koongie Park Copper/Zinc Project about 25km southwest of Hallf Creek in Western Australia. 

AuKing had around $558,000 cash and cash equivalents at hand as of 30 September, according to its latest quarterly report. The company raised $1.25 million through a share placement in November. 

Write to Joshua Smith at Mining.com.au

Images: AuKing Mining
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Written By Joshua Smith
Joshua Smith has years of experience in the media sector, having worked as a markets reporter, features writer, and editor since completing a Communications and Journalism degree and a Creative Writing degree. Josh is an avid board game fan and a self-professed coffee snob.