Helix refining targets amid new discovery 

Helix Resources’ (ASX:HLX) is making progress with gradient induced polarisation surveys at its Canbelego and Bijoux areas in the Rochford Copper Trend in central New South Wales. 

The $11.61 million market capitalisation company says these surveys will refine targets for future drill testing, with results expected for late-March.  

Once in hand, Helix says it will plan additional infill and extensional auger drilling as results are processed. 

Helix currently has 2 auger rigs operating in the Eastern Group Tenements and sampling is currently in progress north of Widgelands. 

The company today (19 March 2024) reports that its upcoming major 15,000m to 25,000m drilling program across its tenements has been delayed until April-May 2024. 

Helix will take the time to assess new and emerging targets following the discovery of 2 ‘broad’ areas of anomalous gold up to 5km long from a wide-spaced auger geochemical sampling program within Helix’s Eastern Group Tenements. 

Multiple occurrences of ‘significant’ gold in auger are present with maximum values up to 100 parts per billion, and gold anomalies, coincident with recently reported rock chips of 8.95 grams per tonne gold, have been flagged at Aldebaran and Max’s Folly. 

Sampling has also further extended a pathfinder antimony-arsenic anomaly which now extends over an 11km by 4km zone and remains open in 2 directions. 

Given the ‘large-scale’ of the pathfinder footprint, a ‘large’ hydrothermal mineralisation system with gold and copper potential is interpreted to be present and remains open to the west and south. 

Executive Technical Director Dr Kylie Prendergast says: “Our latest batch of results have identified extensive gold anomalies which are accompanied by a large-scale antimony-arsenic anomaly Arsenic and antimony are known pathfinders to copper-gold mineralisation in the Cobar district. 

The scale of the anomalies, which are still open in two directions, adds further copper-gold discovery potential within this newly identified zone, located only 60km south of Aeris Resources’ (ASX:AIS) Tritton copper operations. 

The ongoing low-cost, auger sampling programs are a lynchpin in our copper-gold discovery strategy and have been highly effective at rapidly delineating and ranking new targets. 

For the next month we are focused on new geophysical surveys to optimise precious drill metres leading us to defer the planned drill program to late April/May to ensure we hit the best targets. 

Helix has a robust pipeline of copper-gold targets which have the potential to deliver a major copper-gold discovery in the highly endowed, Cobar copper-gold region close to established operations and processing facilities.” 

The Eastern Tenements cover about 1,570km-square of copper-gold prospective stratigraphy in the Girilambone Group, west and southwest of Nyngan. 

Helix Resources is an ‘all-in on copper’ explorer operating in the prolific copper producing region of Cobar, New South Wales, focused on generating new copper targets on its ‘large’, underexplored ground position and test them through drilling to make new discoveries. 

As of December 2023, the company had $3.11 million cash and cash equivalents at hand, according to its latest half yearly report and accounts.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Driving positive change: Building bridges through inclusivity

Women have been excluded from large parts of public, social, and political life in society, and while much progress has been made in the past 100 years, many areas in remain where unequal treatment is still experienced. 

“Just because you are a female, doesn’t mean you can’t build a bridge,” says PRL (ASX:PRG) Company Secretary Elizabeth Lee.

With more than 20 years’ experience in corporate governance and company secretarial functions Lee has spent her career fostering relationships and building bridges in the figurative sense.

As 8 March 2024 marks the annual International Women’s Day (IWD), Mining.com.au sat down with a wide range of women working in various levels throughout the resources sector, discussing how the industry has evolved, challenges that come with the job, inequality and unfairness, and how females are go-getters just as much as their male counterparts. 

This year’s IWD theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’, is an apt one.

As PRL’s Lee explains: “When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.”

Those industry workers and executives who spoke to Mining.com.au agree that across the industry women are keeping ahead and are seeking to ‘cross the bridge when it comes’.

A bridge too far?

Speaking ahead of International Women’s Day, Lodestar Minerals (ASX:LSR) Exploration Manager Coraline Blaud says there is a full diversity of women now in every role “without question and that’s a big change”. 

“Even when I started 10 years ago, there were a lot less of us around — more people would be surprised when you arrived and now you are just another person on the job.”

As this news service previously reported, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that over the past 20 years, women employed full-time in mining rose from 8,700 in August 2002 to 45,000 in August 2022.

However, as the Association of Superannuation Funds Australia (ASFA) shows there is still a long way to go with Aussie women still retiring with 25% less super than men.

Tan Mears (Farquhar) from Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), an 2023 Women In Resources Awards (WIRA) ‘Outstanding Young Women’ finalist, says despite these shortcomings, the sector has ‘positively’ changed. For one, she says there is less tokenism and more importance placed on participation in leadership roles. 

“It’s important to recognise that mining is an industry for everyone men and women. For a long time the resources industry was not a consideration for many women, including myself, and there has been a shift in mindset and desire for change.

We are seeing more women in leadership roles, more women joining the industry in both operational and commercial roles, and greater access to flexible working arrangements for everyone.”

We are seeing more women in leadership roles, more women joining the industry in both operational and commercial roles, and greater access to flexible working arrangements for everyone

According to S&P Global, the number of women holding executive or board positions in publicly traded metals and mining companies has increased over the past 2 years.  As of 2023, women hold 14% of executive positions in comparison to 12.3% in 2021, while they hold 12.3% of board positions in comparison to 8.1% in 2021. 

PRL’s Lee tells Mining.com.au the sector has indeed improved ‘significantly’ throughout the years. 

“I’ve been in the mining sector for over 20 years and business used to be, many years ago, a male-dominated industry. The language and the behaviour of the men were, I suppose, not very complementary to women. 

Now women have facilities and everything that accommodates women’s needs. There is more work that women can do. During my time I had never heard of a female truck driver, but yes, we have female truck drivers now.”

Agrimin (ASX:AMN) Managing Director and CEO Debbie Morrow says this growing acceptance in previously male-dominated roles has taken a somewhat long turn. For one, Morrow notes, there’s more amenities provided for women that were once non-existent. 

“When I had my child, there were not proper locations for pumping when you came back to work and were breastfeeding. 

So I think we have come a long way in terms of making sure that it’s a flexible enough environment for women to want to come back to the workforce and specifically to want to come to mining.”

As is often the case, some of the cultural changes come from the largest organisations and then they trickle down and are adopted to the mid-cap and junior players.

Mining giants such as BHP (ASX:BHP) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) are openly talking about diversity policies and have set targets in place. 

Rio Tinto is working collaboratively with BHP and Fortescue to develop programs that make the sector safer through its ‘Building Safe and Respectful Workplaces’ program being delivered to all new apprentices, trainees, graduates, and vacation studies.

Rio Tinto’s Mears says the program focuses on the affects of sexual harassment, bullying, and racism in the workplace. 

“Eventually the intent is to extend this program beyond mining, which would be fantastic to see us have a positive impact on society.”

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) is also setting targets in place. CEO Janette Hewson tells Mining.com.au “the QRC has set an ambitious target of 30% female representation by 2026”. 

“While positive progress has been made, the industry is continually working to do better and to encourage more women to consider a career in resources.”

Cazaly’s MD Tara French says these are examples of great deal of changes she’s witnessed since she started in the industry 25-plus years ago. She notes refining maternity leave, and cultural changes within the sector that previously were non-existent.

“Now men are able to take maternity leave, which is a great step forward, and with more flexibility around working hours and working from home, women are often able to return to the workforce sector. 

Culture is also improving across the board, and future changes will continue if people continue to speak up

Culture is also improving across the board, and future changes will continue if people continue to speak up. I have also found that the younger generations coming through are more open to discussions, and often women in management roles are considered more approachable than their male counterparts.”

In August 2017, Fortescue opened a childcare facility in its Perth office, which is a free service for its employees and is a key element of its diversity plan to help balance work and family responsibilities.

Hewson says these changes needed to happen given the number of women in trade roles has grown by nearly 40% over the past year alone.

“Over the past 10 years, there has been a much sharper focus within Queensland’s resources sector on the need to increase the number of women working in our industry. 

The good news for our sector is that the number of women employed in Queensland’s mining and industry increased to 8,552 full-time equivalent (FTE) last financial year and now account for a record 22.1% of the total workforce.”

Although the numbers are growing in Queensland’s resource sector, the Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) on Mining, Metals, and Sustainable Development reported a gendered analysis of employment in the Australian mining sector in 2022. It found women still only account for 16% of the total workforce in mining. 

The sector ranks as the second lowest in the economy for having the lowest female employment participation rate. 

Candis Rhodes, Rio Tinto’s Sustainability Manager and 2024 Chamber of Commerce WIRA finalist explains it like this: “There are still many times when I am in a room, in a workshop, with a team — where I am the only, or one of the only, women.”

Nature vs nurture

There are many organisations out there helping to support workplace diversity, as well as ensuring facilitating opportunities for women who want to continue working. 

Agrimin (ASX:AMN) Managing Director and CEO Debbie Morrow says: “We need to ensure that we’re nurturing those females to stay in our workforce and I think that’s probably setting the targets and having the 50:50 intake, which the majority of companies do. 

There is a huge resource in Australia that is not being tapped into as well as it could be by our sector, and I think that’s a huge opportunity for industry.”

Morrow explains there are plenty of roles that offer more flexibility, which in turn would help encourage women to participate in the industry or come back had they left. 

“Work anywhere, work anytime” kind of modelling has been proven to work for a lot of roles. With the development of technology, people can work remotely and access operating systems and databases.”

US multinational consultancy firm McKinsey & Company finds that the drop-off rate from entry level to executive positions for females are among the highest.  Among S&P 500 companies in 2021, the firm reported there were only 30 female CEOs — not one of them from mining.

McKinsey’s global survey had more than 1,000 female respondents saying they left the industry (or were wanting to leave) due to the lack of opportunities or feeling undervalued. 

As the women interviewed by this news service agree, a wide range of factors are still contributing to the exodus of any workforce. Yet, there’s a common denominator when it comes to women and mining. 

One is that the resources sector remains largely male-dominated and the somewhat archaic workplace cultures that once prevalent still linger to varying degrees.

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) Executive Technical Director Kylie Prendergast says during her expansive career she has faced harassment, bullying, non-inclusiveness, and blocked career pathways. 

In one previous undisclosed example, Prendergast was told that she had to stay in a role for 5 years before she could develop further or after she found 1 million ounces of gold. 

“Although scary, I made the decision to leave big company employment to pursue an uncertain portfolio far removed from the patriarchal 90s Australian mining industry. This led me to stay and leave on my own terms.”

‘Not a competition, it’s a workplace’

Lodestar’s Coraline Blaud says being a woman in mining can be a tough challenge, sometimes largely due to a societal point of view that is then placed on oneself.

“From my point of view, it’s always been having to work harder to really try to show that I could do it. I would work harder, do longer hours, carry weight, probably that I shouldn’t have, just to prove that I could do it.

“It’s about being supportive of each other and giving opportunities. It’s not a competition, it’s a workplace.”

However, it can be an extremely competitive environment. According to the federal government’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, only 22.3% of CEOs are women in the country. 

It was not until 2022 that the ASX appointed its first female CEO, when Helen Lofthouse replaced Dominic Steves. This could be a prime example of women having to compete for management or leadership positions due to their gender and not because of their capabilities or skills. 

PRL’s Company Secretary Lee notes: “If you’ve got the qualifications, the years of experience, and the ability to do the world, I don’t think you should be discriminated against.”

Bridging the gap

The federal government reports the gender pay gap in Australia is ‘extremely high’.

A recent Chief Executive Women (CEW) Senior Executive Census report estimates it will take over a decade to reach gender parity in executive leadership teams. 

For every $1 on average a male makes, females earn about $0.78. Over the course of one year, that difference adds up to $26,393. 

PRL’s Lee says pay should be based on the role, not on the gender. 

“If I’m a woman truck driver and I’m working with a male and he gets paid 20% more, I’m going to be pissed off. I drive the same truck, I go the same route, I have to observe all the same safety standards. Why is it that he gets paid more? That’s not fair.”

The evidence of the gender pay gap was previously reported by Mining.com.au last year when covering the International Women’s Day.

An AusIMM report shows 85% of female respondents said gender inequality was ubiquitous, while 70% of respondents said bullying was common. 

Morrow says: “Particularly the bullying, sexual harassment, and lack of psychological safety in the workplace is unfortunately still common across the industry.

If people speak up and there is lack of action, then it means that others don’t speak up, they don’t feel comfortable to speak up and some of these behaviours are then ingrained in culture.

Particularly as a female leader in the industry, you think, what more can we do?”

Is this a bridge too far or is there now enough water under the bridge to resolve this?

Driving positive change

Xplore Resources CEO Kim Wainwright says there is a lot of ‘great’ work happening within the resources sector.

“Conversations are happening and I do believe that a lot of the companies are taking their time to put in place policies, procedures, and structures that really support to facilitate the women in the sector. 

I think we have come so far, but I still think there are conversations that need to be had, so that anything negative is removed as much as humanly possible.”

As of June 2022, the Western Australian parliamentary inquiry handed down a final report ‘Enough is Enough’ in regards to sexual harassment against women in the fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) mining industry. Minister for Resources Madeleine King put forth 24 recommendations urging ‘stronger’ action to support a growing female workforce. 

Cazaly Resources’ MD Tara French finds a silver lining regarding the report.

She says that while the report outlines ‘horrific’ examples of sexual harassment, it’s positive such issues are topics of open discussion, so corrective actions can be taken. 

“Managers also need to take the responsibility to manage any poor behaviours to remove these destructive influences from sites. There is only one way to address any problem — and that is if it’s acknowledged in the first place.”

As mentioned, the mining majors have to some degree played their part. In Australia, many organisations offer women sponsorship opportunities, mentoring programs, events, and a place to connect with industry peers. 

Rio Tinto’s (ASX:RIO) Candis Rhodes, who is a recipient of the Chamber of Mining and Energy’s (CME) ‘Women in Resources Awards’ says she feels lucky to be a part of such an important sector.

“Creating forums and communities for women so we don’t feel ‘different’ or the ‘odd one out’ make us feel welcome and included. These organisations and events are all great ways to celebrate the amazing women in the industry.”

Rhodes holds a Masters in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, and has an undergraduate degree in Management and International Business.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Janette Hewson tells Mining.com.au the council fully supports these initiatives. This month’s annual resources awards is an important example and opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements of women in the industry. 

“These awards have become an increasingly popular event on our industry’s calendar and this year will be our biggest ever, with over 1,200 people attending at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.”

For the sixth consecutive year, the Australiasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) is also celebrating the achievements of women, with this year’s theme being ‘driving positive change together’.

The theme encourages individuals working in the sector to advocate diversity, equality, and inclusion. Something that often still gets overlooked.

Xplore Resources’ Wainwright says this year’s theme comes back to supporting one another and continuing to educate on the importance of women in all industries. 

“It’s a great theme. Women make up 50% of the population and so we’d be silly not to push the recognition of the contribution and the continual growth of women being represented in the industry as a whole.”

Lodestar’s Blaud adds: “Sometimes women can be hard on each other and I think it’s about remembering we’re all doing the same work. So supporting each other and always being there and knowing that there are always people to have your back if it is required.”

Meanwhile, Helix Resources’ Prendergast says the theme represents togetherness with mind and heart wide open. 

“We are working with social constructs built within literally millenniums of patriarchal culture. In respect of that timescale, what has been achieved in the last 10 to 20 years is extraordinary — and I’m game to keep at it, so my daughter can live and work in a fairer and safer world.”

With well over a century of history and change, the first International Women’s Day was held in March 1911. 

World-renowned feminist, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem reportedly once explained: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Australia was the first country in the world to grant women of European heritage full suffrage. The country has helped pave the way for the rest of the world in terms of gender equality. 

Yet, in the workforce, and specifically in mining, as the women who spoke to this news service will attest, there are still some ways to go in terms of reaching complete parity. 

But as they say, what an industry to fight to be a part of.

Write to Aaliyah Rogan at Mining.com.au   

Images: Supplied
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Written By Aaliyah Rogan
Relocated from the East Coast in New Zealand to Queensland Australia, Aaliyah is a fervent journalist who has a passion for storytelling. When Aaliyah isn’t writing stories, she is either spending time with friends and family or down at the beach.

Helix Resources lines up polarisation surveys

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) is lining up 2 gradient array induced polarisation (GAIP) surveys, the first covering a 16km-square area from north of Canbelego to south of Caballero.

The $6.96 million market capitalisation company will then embark on a second covering a 5km-square area over the Bijoux prospect. A GAIP survey is a cost-effective method surveying large areas to detect chargeability and resistivity anomalies, however GAIP will not provide a depth constraint on any identified anomalies. 

Helix says the GAIP anomalies will need to be followed up with pole-dipole induced polarisation (PDIP) surveys to accurately define the depth and geometry of the anomalies. 

Utilisation of GAIP to detect sulphide mineralisation and then PDIP to better define the target ahead of drilling will fast track drill testing and optimise the drill success rate – saving drill metres and expenditure. 

The GAIP surveys will start in early March 2024, with the surveys expected to be completed in late-March. Follow-up PDIP surveys will be undertaken after that to define drill targets.

Helix says the new targets highlight potential for parallel lodes to increase the scale of the copper deposits. Both anomalies (central and western) possibly extend and thicken the Western Lode system and sit 600m west of the Canbelego Main Lode at 135m deep, respectively. 

Executive Technical Director Dr Kylie Prendergast says while still early days, the use of IP geophysics is emerging as a “game-changer” for the company and its exploration of the Rochford Trend. 

“Copper mineralisation occurs as sulphide minerals in either disseminated, vein stockworks or sometimes massive-sulphide textures. The after can be conductive and to date we have relied on measuring that massive, conductive feature utilising electromagnetic survey techniques to identify potential deposits. 

However, at Bijoux we intersected copper sulphides at grades well above 1% copper but occurring as veins and disseminations and hence unlikely to give an EM response. 

With our multi-disciplinary approach including pathfinder geochemistry, we think IP can identify quite refined drill targets or eliminate targets, which offers significant savings on drilling expenditure and time. 

This is an exciting development, fast-tracking Helix on a discovery pathway while saving money and optimising our drill targeting.”

Helix Resources is an ‘all-in on copper’ explorer operating in the prolific copper producing region of Cobar, New South Wales, focused on generating new copper targets on its ‘large’, underexplored ground position and test them through drilling to make new discoveries. 

As of December 2023, the company had $3.11 million cash and cash equivalents at hand, according to its latest half yearly report and accounts.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Untapped: Australia ‘underexplored’ despite rich endowment

In 2022, Australia spent more than $4 billion on mineral exploration, which is a 13% increase from 2021.

Critically, in decade to 2021 Australia accounted for 18% of all discoveries and since 2015 the country generated the greatest return on investment in the world achieving better ‘bang-per-buck’ than their foreign counterparts.

Included in the total 2022 spend was exploration for battery and critical metals such as lithium and rare earth elements (REEs), which increased by 66% to $483 million, according to the latest ‘Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus’.

Until recently, most Australian mineral discoveries were either exposed at surface or had some form of surface expression that could easily be detected by geological, geochemical, or geophysical exploration methods.

However, as the most recent ‘Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus’  highlights, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that resources will only be found near the surface. With most of the continent still underexplored there are many potential resources yet to be undiscovered.

Australia’s federal, state, and territory geological surveys provide ‘world-leading’ precompetitive geoscience to accelerate new mineral discovery and development.

As per the prospectus, Geoscience Australia’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program is the country’s premier investment in precompetitive geoscience aimed at progressing ‘world-class’, Australia-wide, geological, geochemical, and geophysical data coverages.

From these coverages, a national inventory of resource potential is emerging and informing regional projects, where government geoscience is further reducing risks for explorers.

Biggest ‘bang-per-buck’

Since 2015, Australia’s share of global exploration expenditure has risen 10% to 18%. The prospectus notes that over the same period the country generated the greatest return on investment in the world.

In terms of performance, as mentioned Australian companies exploring in-country achieved a ‘bang-per-buck’ (value-to-cost ratio) of 1.63 versus only 1.02 for foreign companies, suggesting a very strong ‘hometown’ advantage for local players.

Surprisingly, Australian companies also performed well exploring overseas with a ‘bang-per-buck’ of 1.56. Value-to-cost ratio or ‘bang-per-buck’ refers to the value generated per every dollar spent, and whether it created (rather than destroyed) value.

between the period 2012 and 2021 Australia accounted for 18% of all discoveries by number

What’s worth reiterating is that between the period 2012 and 2021 Australia accounted for 18% of all discoveries by number.

As the prospectus notes, precompetitive geoscience has been vital to supporting this value creation, underpinning three quarters of the 8 world-class discoveries made in Australia since 2017.

Australia’s geological surveys collaborate as to support the development of the minerals sector.

The ‘Australia minerals team’ provides coordinated and strategic actions to, among others, highlight investment opportunities; explain the nation’s competitive advantages; promote precompetitive data; provide unrivalled expertise about Australia’s geology, resource potential, mining regulations, and exploration and development initiatives in the country.

Critical mineral discovery potential

Critical mineral deposits are the consequence of Earth processes that concentrate elements, termed mineral systems. A mineral of interest can be concentrated in a number of different systems and accompanied by other commodities.

The ‘Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus’  sheds light on some of the particularly notable mineral systems across the country with the potential to supply critical minerals.

Felsic igneous-related rare earth elements (REEs), lithium, tungsten, niobium, tantalum, beryllium, and bismuth occur in known deposits and have potential for additional discovery across Australia.

Interestingly, Hamelin Gold (ASX:HMG) is using bismuth as a potential pathfinder for gold as it advances its West Tanami Project in Western Australia.

Australian Critical Minerals (ASX:ACM) is an example of one junior explorer with exposure to a raft of minerals and is developing a portfolio in Western Australia prospective for gold, lithium, and REEs in a bid to play a pivotal role in delivering minerals needed for a clean energy future.

Lodestar (ASX:LSR) has a focus in both the base and precious metals markets. The company last month as began a review of all drilling, geochemical, and geophysical data gathered from its Earaheedy Project in Western Australia after completing a maiden diamond core drilling program. 

Tungsten is incredibly critical to green technology and Group 6 Metals (ASX:G6M) is one of a few developing such a project with the Dolphin Tungsten Mine based on King Island. The mine recently achieved a new daily ore processing record, more than 1,000 tonnes of high-grade ore over 24 hours, marking a steady climb towards its nameplate production capacity. This equates to an hourly throughput of 44tph or 73% of the design nameplate capacity.

Group 6’s Bold Head Tungsten deposit is also planning to be developed as a satellite mine to the larger Dolphin mine, supplying the existing processing plant. The Bold Head mining lease has been granted, Full Feasibility Studies are underway and EPA Tasmania referral is targeted for the H2 2024. Offtake agreements are in place with Wolfram Bergbau und Hutten and Traxys for 65% of the first 4 years production.

While there’s a myriad of companies in the rare earths space, companies of note include ABx Group (ASX:ABX), as well as Aruma Resources (ASX:AAJ), which also has exposure to gold and lithium.

OD6 (ASX:OD6) has also identified clay hosted rare earths at its 100% owned Splinter Rock and Grass Patch projects located in the Esperance-Goldfields region of Western Australia. 

Precompetitive geoscience contribution

According to the ‘Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus’  mafic-ultramafic-related platinum group elements, chromium, and cobalt resources often occur together with nickel and copper in mafic-ultramafic igneous complexes. Precompetitive geoscience contributed to large discoveries such as the Julimar PGE-Ni-Cu-Au-Co deposit near Perth in Western Australia.

Australian sedimentary basins host critical and strategic minerals such as magnesium, manganese, nickel, and vanadium. Of these, manganese, magnesium, and nickel are currently mined in the country.

Advanced exploration projects have identified significant resources of magnesite (source of magnesium) and vanadium (plus nickel and molybdenum).

Manganese explorer and developer Black Canyon (ASX:BCA) listed in 2021 and has the largest manganese deposit in Western Australia and second largest in Australia, in the ‘underexplored’ Balfour Manganese Field.

Newly merged entities Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) and Technology Metals Australia are on track to become the first primary producer of vanadium in Australia. With a BFS released April 2022, extensive pilot testwork completed and mining lease granted, the Australian Vanadium Project is one the most advanced vanadium projects in the world.

Since merging with Technology Metals, the company now owns the Murchison Technology Metals Project (MTMP) – one of the world’s highest grade primary vanadium projects, with feasibility studies confirming it will be a large-scale, low-cost, high-quality vanadium producer.

Focused on nickel are exploration companies Western Mines Group (ASX:WMG) and Great Western Exploration (GTE:ASX), the latter of which has exposure to other commodities. While in late 2023 Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) subsidiary Ionick Metals executed an option agreement with Alchemy Resources (ASX:ALY) to acquire Alchemy’s 80% JV interest in the West Lynn nickel laterite project in New South Wales. 

Moreover, the prospectus notes metamorphosed basins are also known to contain significant graphite resources. Scandium and rhenium resources are known in other geological environments.

Scratching beyond the surface

Australia’s near surface is emerging as an important search space for critical minerals. New discoveries of heavy mineral sand provinces in Australia, such as the Murray Basin, attest to the potential of the continent for further delineation of major resources, which host zirconium, titanium, and rare earth elements.

The country’s salt lakes have low potential for magnesium and lithium, but they have high potential for potash, which is now being produced in WA. Clay-hosted rare earth element deposits are also an emerging deposit style in Australia, with the potential to host large volumes of heavy rare earth elements.

ABx is progressing a project with ionic adsorption clay rare earths resources in Tasmania.

High purity alumina (HPA) is aluminium oxide with very low levels of impurities, which can be produced primarily from kaolin clay or processed bauxite. Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT), for example, has exposure to HPA among other minerals and metals. Interestingly, Metro Mining (ASX:MMI) is the only pure-play bauxite miner on the ASX.

Silicon for high-tech applications is produced from high-purity quartz (HPQ) with a purity greater than 99% silica. HPQ occurs through a variety of natural processes and a broad range of geological mineral systems, such as hydrothermal veins, gravels, and quartz-rich granites.

Metallica Car

Metallica Minerals (ASX:MLM) is one such company developing a silica sands project in Australia. The company will meet with ‘prospective customers’ in Asia amid a growing interest in ‘high purity’ silica sand from its Cape Flattery Project in North Queensland.  

The visit follows the company in September 2023 supplying prospective customers with product from bulk metallurgical tests at Cape Flattery. Early stage offtake discussions are ongoing as the company continues to develop an understanding of key drivers of the growing Asia Pacific seaborne silica sand market.

Australia also has untapped resources of lesser known minerals.

Antimony, indium, gallium, and germanium are primarily byproducts of the refining of major commodities, including gold, zinc, lead, copper, aluminium, and nickel. Australia holds significant resources of these major commodities and as the prospectus notes, there is potential for new or increased production of these minerals.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Supplied & Australian government
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.

Helix loading bases in home run hope 

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) is continuing to hit home runs in the Rochford Copper Trend with a large-scale drilling program scheduled at the Widgelands, Aldebaran, and Max’s Folly prospects.

On 8 February 2024 this news service  reported the $8.13 million market capitalisation company has been setting the foundations for a 15,000m to 25,000m drilling program designed to ‘drill or kill’ prospective targets uncovered across its Eastern and Western Group tenements in the Cobar-Nyngan region.

Helix today (20 February 2024) announces the Widgelands, Aldebaran, and Max’s Folly prospects have now been fast-tracked for drilling as part of its quest to keep hitting home runs.

Auger drilling will continue in the Eastern Group into the next quarter, where 2 auger rigs are currently operating.

Helix is proposing to collect several thousand new samples along the Collerina Trend. 

Results for 262 samples are currently pending. The samples extend the auger coverage in the area southwest of the CZ prospect. Auger sampling is currently in progress in the Widgelands area, where about 400 samples have been collected to date. 

Further, 1,541 gold assays are pending for the Eastern Group auger samples, with those results expected in March to April 2024. 

Helix Resources Executive Technical Director Dr Kylie Prendergast says Helix is working to establish a pipeline of “very encouraging” targets which have potential to deliver a “major” copper-gold discovery.

“The Helix team are utilising a number of advanced exploration techniques across our tenements, allowing the company to paint a much more refined picture of the high-grade copper-gold potential in the very prospective Collerina Trend. 

It is always exciting when multi-layered datasets highlight the potential of a target. In this case, a newly identified, large-scale pathfinder (antimony and arsenic) auger anomaly aligned with a major regional structural position. This discovery is further supported by the identification of initial high-grade copper and gold results in rock chips from 3 target areas.

We are very active on our large, strategic land position in the highly endowed, Cobar copper-gold region.”

One of the anomalies being assessed in the current program is a ‘large-scale’, 10km by 2km open pathfinder geochemical anomaly of antimony with anomalous arsenic. It was flagged through auger sampling and correlates with gold-rich targets at Max’s Folly and Aldebaran, as well as the Widgelands copper target. 

Aldebaran and Widgelands have not been drilled before and anomalous gold results from Max’s Folly have not been followed up.

Helix Resources is an ‘all-in on copper’ explorer operating in the prolific copper producing region of Cobar, New South Wales. The company’s strategy is to generate new copper targets on its ‘large’, underexplored ground position and test them through drilling to make new discoveries. 

As of December 2023, Helix Resources had $3.011 million cash and cash equivalents at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
Author Image
Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Helix: hitting home runs in Rochford Copper Trend

Teams of analysts forecast a copper surplus for 2024 although ‘large’ deficits are estimated from 2025 through to 2027 as concentrates production weakens and planned smelter production strengthens. 

The world needs more copper as without it reaching net zero carbon emissions is nigh impossible.        

In such a climate, the only question on the minds of most investors, explorers, developers, and experts is this – where is this copper going to come from?

If one were to ask copper explorer and developer Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) Chairman Mike Rosenstreich, he would tell you he plans for it to be coming from the Cobar-Nyngan region of central New South Wales. 

When this news service spoke to Rosenstreich back in July 2023, the Chairman made one thing plainly clear, and that was — “You can talk about as many anomalies as you like, but until you get a drill intercept, you haven’t made a discovery.”

Now, Helix has set the foundations for a ‘major’ 15,000m to 25,000m drilling program designed to, as Rosenstreich puts it, ‘drill or kill’ prospective targets uncovered across its Eastern and Western Group tenements in the Cobar-Nyngan region.

With shared sentiments echoing amongst the copper market that the price of copper is more likely to respond to economic sentiment than the long-term supply and demand balance, what better time to potentially uncover New South Wales’ next copper deposit. 

Based on the technical work that I’m seeing our team producing, we really are becoming Cobar experts. That puts us in a very prime position to find new copper prospects, as well as identify opportunities on other people’s ground and look for collaborative opportunities.”

To ensure the plan goes off without a hitch, the company has been busy drafting star players to its team to fulfil one very simple goal that has been at the forefront of Helix’s exploration activities over recent months and into 2024. 

“Very simplistically, it is just about finding more copper by working with talented people, innovative use of technology, generating large regional data sets, underpinned by old-fashioned but increasingly rare boots on the ground geological mapping,” Rosenstreich tells Mining.com.au.

The company holds a ‘large’ 3,000km-square ground position, comprising the Canbelego Joint Venture, Rochford Copper Trend, and Collerina projects into what it calls the Western and Eastern Group tenements, respectively. 

It is here Helix is focused on “loading the bases” by building up a large number of copper (and gold) discoveries to potentially “score some runs” for shareholders. 

Hitting a homerun

Helix’s decision to establish its suite of copper assets in the Cobar-Nyngan area was not a spur of the moment decision, nor was it off base. 

For context, the region hosts the CSA Copper Mine — one of the ‘highest grade’ copper mines in the world only 11km north-west from the township of Cobar, with reported ore reserve grades of 4% copper. 

The mine produced 36,147 tonnes of copper and 429,259 ounces of silver in 2023 from just shy of 1.1 million tonnes processed on site and has been operating for almost 60 years. 

Metals Acquisition (NYSE:MTAL) purchased the CSA Copper Mine from Glencore (LON:GLEN) in June 2023.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Helix’s strategy is to be “all-in on Cobar copper”, positioned around its Canbelego resource and associated Rochford Copper Trend and Collerina projects in this historically copper-rich region. 

“In early 2021, with a new management team, we had a concept that Canbelego was host to Cobar-style mineralisation, which is a very attractive exploration target. So we restarted exploration there after a 8-year hiatus,” says Rosenstreich. 

“CSA extends vertically down for over 2km, so the obvious place to drill was down deeper. And lo and behold, in the second drill hole we got 18 metres at 3.4% Cu. Our share price went up five times and we confirmed the exploration model.”   

Rosenstreich, being an avid baseball fan, considered the aforementioned result a direct hit. 

“Sometimes you can get lucky and drill a home run like 18m at 3.4% Cu. More often you have to run the bases, if you don’t strike-out

“Sometimes you can get lucky and drill a home run like 18m at 3.4% Cu. More often you have to run the bases, if you don’t strike-out.”

Looking to repeat history, Rosenstreich has unveiled the company’s game plan which he hopes will launch Helix from the bush league to the major league. 

The idea is to test 20 individual targets across all of our tenements in one ongoing campaign. That is meaningful for us – because we either advance or kill targets and [that is] exciting for shareholders because to line-up say 20 to 30 targets and then work through them is positive in terms of ‘chances of hitting something’ as opposed to testing one or two targets every few months, which, news-wise, is pretty dull.”

The “one ongoing campaign” Rosenstreich alludes to is the 15,000m to 25,000m drilling program scheduled to begin in late March 2024. 

Keeping its eyes on the ball, Helix spent 2023 building up its bench with priority and prospective targets. One promising target the company has had its eyes on for a while is its Bijoux prospect. 

Sitting in the Rochford Trend the prospect is proving its worth of copper, with 7 of 9 drillholes completed at the back end of 2023 hitting ‘significant’ oxide and sulphide copper mineralisation, such as 36m at 1% copper with 6m at 2% copper, and 10m at 1.5% copper. 

This new drilling is outlining a 200m NNW-trending mineralised zone that dips steeply to the north-northeast and is open to the north and at depth. 

What’s more, being on the Rochford Trend — a 30km corridor of ‘high-grade’ copper potential — the company noted these results put a fresh sparkle into a historic prospect. 

“We have clearly got a great start by follow-up at Bijoux where a new discovery is emerging and also around Canbelego where recent work is highlighting early potential to expand the mineral resource,” notes Rosenstreich.   

Needless to say, the opportunity for this prospective target to potentially hit another desired home run has been noted by Helix.  

Another target on Helix’s hitlist is the recently discovered Black Range prospect, where maiden RC drilling highlighted ‘broad’ intervals of sulphide mineralisation with anomalous copper just shy of 1.5% near two historic shallow shafts. 

However, the results threw a curve ball for Helix, which believed it was on the trail towards uncovering a different style of mineralisation to what has been delineated at the Canbelego Main Lode – as part of its flagship Canbelego Project — delivering potential for the company to unearth ‘larger-scale’ mineralisation. 

Other notable targets flagged across the Cobar-Nyngan playing field include the Mount Lewis Trend, as well as additional prospective zones for extending the Canbelego mineral resource of 1.83 million tonnes at 1.74% copper containing 31,800 tonnes of copper. 

Given the range and sheer amount of targets flagged thus far, the management at Helix have begun the culling process as to which targets will be drafted and which ones will be struck out.

Helix’s newly inaugurated Executive Technical Director Dr Kylie Prendergast provides some insight as to what the culling process will look like. 

“We’re doing more work at these emerging targets like Bijoux and Black Range. We are deploying some geophysical methods not applied here before to better define targets for drilling, and we are planning to follow up with another round of drilling very soon. The volume of new, valuable geological data we have been gathering over the past few years is amazing and is really opening up the potential of all our ground holdings. 

The culmination of this regional work is identification of about 100 copper-gold targets spread out across our tenements. We’re working very hard right now to prioritise that down to the best 20 or 40.

We are moving into an exciting phase for our shareholders and these results demand to be followed up with a major drilling campaign. We know we’ve got fantastic copper geochemical anomalies. It’s now about whether we can turn them into discoveries and then into resources. That’s what drilling is about.

Our goal is to grow our resource inventory and that’s why we’ll go to the biggest and the best and start drilling them.”

When asked if there is scope for the upcoming drilling program to be expanded, Rosenstreich told this news service that 15,000 to 25,000m is a pretty good start and assumes success and sufficient funding, but he would very much like to see his players pick up the pace with drilling and follow-up on mineralisation. 

“Demonstrable success creates opportunities to be followed up. My preference is to broaden our work front, perhaps with extra drill rigs to maintain a ‘target-testing’ workflow and with success a more of a drill-out strategy working towards new Mineral Resource Estimates. 

Other work, such as the generative work, can’t be hurried and our shareholders have been very patient with us in that regard. But with some major regional work completed and some ongoing, we are really gaining momentum in terms of new targets and needing to drill them – hence the major program plans.” 

However, following Rosenstreich’s ascension to Chairman, the company has unveiled its newest star in the likes of Prendergast who is ready to step up to the plate and swing for the fences at what is one of Helix’s biggest exploration campaigns to date. 

Batter up!

Behind every successful sporting season, there was a coach behind the scenes ensuring the plan that had been developed for so long was being executed perfectly by their players. 

For Major League Baseball that man was Hall of Famer Tony La Russa — who coached his teams to first place in their respective divisions 12 times, winning 6 pennants and 3 World Series. But for Helix Resources that person is Kylie Prendergast. Batter up!

Who then is Kylie Prendergast? Newly inaugurated Executive Technical Director of Helix Resources — sure, but to end the assessment there could be considered an insult to a person who has been instrumental in making significant copper discoveries across the globe. 

Prendergast is a woman who knows her copper. Heralding from Queensland, she began her career on home soil gathering experience from various roles across Australia’s mining industry before heading overseas to hone her skills amongst private entities within the Middle East and Asia.  

Having held roles in national and foreign mining jurisdictions, Prendergast says her expertise lies in exploration and discovery, as highlighted through her achievements over the years in the field. 

More notably, the aspiring geologist garnered experience at the Grasberg mine in Irian Jaya, West Papua — the single largest known gold reserve and second largest copper reserves in the world. 

“I’m a Queenslander, which hopefully is not a problem for New South Wales, and I’ve been in the industry my entire career. I’ve worked all around Australia and I did spend a proportion [of time] working overseas in Mongolia and the Middle East. In Oman, we discovered 4 new copper deposits, 2 of them were open pit mined and now the third one is being mined underground.

I also have a PhD in geology, which I did at the Grasberg deposit in West Papua — one of the biggest copper gold deposits in the world. 

More recently I’ve had almost 9 years running a boutique mining consultancy in Brisbane. 

I did spend all that time consulting and working with a lot of multidisciplinary consultants. But I am very passionate about exploration and discovery. And obviously, given all that time in mining consultancy, very realistic about what’s economic as well.”

“It’s that breadth and depth of exploration experience which I think really pushes this management change that we’re going through

It is this “breadth and depth” of exploration which has Rosenstreich confident that Prendergast is the woman for the job amid this transition in management. 

“It’s that breadth and depth of exploration experience which I think really pushes this management change that we’re going through.”

Adding on, when asked what Prendergast brings to the table for Helix ahead of its drilling program, Rosenstreich says her detailed exploration approach and global experience, coupled with her leveraging off the in-house expertise established over the past few years and floating of new concepts, is what makes her a star player for hitting a potential home run in the Cobar-Nyngan area.

2024 game plan 

Looking forward, the Chairman says there is one thing which remains on his mind as 2024 gets into full swing, and that is ‘drill, drill, drill’.

Our objective is to get onto several new discoveries across our tenements and then gear up further for major drill outs and ongoing target testing, subject to success and funding…and the weather.

We want Helix and its team to stay focused on finding new deposits.”

The Chairman’s sentiments are shared by Prendergast, who adds Helix will remain fixated on copper in the Cobar-Nyngan region of New South Wales. 

With all players in position out on the field and an almost bullet-proof plan in motion, Helix is well on its way to hitting one out of the park.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Ravensthorpe a reminder of cyclical price fluctuations

The subdued nickel market and suspension of mining at Canada’s First Quantum Minerals’ (TSE:FM) Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine in Western Australia highlights the cyclical commodity price fluctuations that come with the market, industry sources say. 

As reported by Mining.com.au, nickel was the worst-performing metal on the London Metal Exchange (LME) to close off 2023, with spot prices being down 45% from the early January 2023 peak of US$30,958 per tonne. 

As a result, Western Australia has witnessed the $2.2 billion Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine mothballed once again — just shy of 4 years since mining restarted in 2020. 

Up to 30% of the 420-strong workforce is expected to be cut while mining is suspended. 

The closure of Ravensthorpe comes only a week after Panoramic Resources in December entered into voluntary administration after announcing on-site staff at the Savannah nickel mine were to be made redundant due to the falling prices. 

Speaking to Mining.com.au, Western Australia Premier Roger Cook says the suspension of Ravensthorpe mining is a firm reminder of the cyclical commodity price fluctuations and other market factors beyond our control.   

“While the nickel industry is experiencing significant headwinds at the moment, I am confident it will continue to survive and thrive in the longer term, supplying a responsibly sourced quality metal product that is critical to the world’s energy transition.”

Echoing these sentiments is Western Mines Group (ASX:WMG) Managing Director Dr Caedmon Marriott who says the whole junior nickel sector in general is experiencing horrific headwinds as the price descends lower. 

“We’ve been starting to see mine closures. That’s the interplay of the nickel cost curve with the metal price. Obviously, we’ve reached a point now where these mines and their position on the upper tiers of the cost curve, the price isn’t high enough to sustain them.”  

Western Mines Group is a mineral explorer focused on delivering ‘high-value’ gold and nickel deposits across a portfolio of ‘highly prospective’ projects in Western Australia. 

ASX-listed junior keeping an eye on nickel is Alchemy Resources (ASX:ALY). Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Wilson tells this news service for those projects and mines still in operation, ‘grade is king’. 

Alchemy’s Wilson adds that it proves once again that grade is king if miners want to ride out a low commodity price environment.

“It’s a question of costs – the nickel price has been hovering just over AUD$11/lb for the last month or so – and Savannah had all-in costs of $12.52 in the last quarter so it’s really ‘grade is king’ at the moment for existing operations

“It’s a question of costs the nickel price has been hovering just over AUD$11/lb for the last month or so and Savannah had all-in costs of $12.52 in the last quarter so it’s really ‘grade is king’ at the moment for existing operations.”

However, Marriott believes this is a complete misconception and forecasts further closures across the nickel market until a potential rebound in 2025 to 2026. 

“I think the whole grade is king is a complete misconception. The nickel projections talk about this probably being a 2025, possibly 2026 story.

The reason why it’s a 2025-2026 story is probably because by the end of this year we should have got through all the Indonesia ramp up, and all the new builds should have reached maximum capacity. Therefore there’s no incremental supply or oversupply out of Indonesia.

If you look at Mincor’s (ASX:MCR) mines and resource statement, they’ve got about 20 different mines and every single one of them has got a grade of over 4% nickel. And I would bet you that those are going to close.”

Mining.com.au reported in November the consolidation of Alchemy Resources’ and Helix Resources’ (ASX:HLX) nickel-cobalt assets under Helix’s subsidiary Ionick Metals. 

Under the option agreement, Helix will acquire Alchemy’s 80% joint venture (JV) interest in the West Lynn Project in New South Wales, which hosts an inferred mineral resource of 21.3 million tonnes (Mt) @ 0.84% nickel and 0.05% cobalt at a 0.06% nickel cutoff. 

Ionick Metals is expected to float onto the ASX via an initial public offering (IPO) this year.  

Nickel is a strong, lustrous, silvery-white metal that is essential to modern life. From the batteries in a television remote to the stainless steel in a kitchen sink. It is predominantly an alloy metal. Its inclusion in steel, particularly with chromium and other metals, produces strong, corrosion-resistant, heat-resistant stainless steels, as per First Quantum’s website.

About 65% of all nickel produced goes into stainless steel and modern construction, engineering, transport, and power infrastructure would not be possible without it.

Non-steel uses for nickel include magnets, coinage, rechargeable batteries, electric guitar strings and special alloys. It is also used for plating and as a green tint in glass. Despite being a vital component of electric vehicles (EVs) and stainless steel, as well as being one of the top 5 most common and most versatile elements on earth, nickel has witnessed a loss of love within the market. 

According to Trading Economics, the price of nickel has dropped 39.5% as of 12 January to below $16,500 per tonne, inching closer to nearly 3-year lows as ‘robust’ supply from producers such as Indonesia, Philippines, and China continue to weigh on the commodity. 

However, Trading Economics forecasts a slight relief for prices from hopes of rate cuts by major central banks and stronger demand prospects linked to growing use of nickel in EV batteries and the revival of the stainless-steel sector.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: First Quantum
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Helix laying foundations for major Rochford drilling 

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) is lining up step out drilling as part of a ‘major’ drilling program in March this year to test further targets in the Rochford Copper Trend in the Cobar-Nyngan region of central New South Wales. 

The $9.29 million market capitalisation company says drilling is being planned after making a new 200m north-northwest trending copper discovery at the Bijoux prospect following a scout reverse circulation (RC) drilling program. 

Drilling comprised 9 RC holes and was designed as part of an ‘aggressive’ target generation and testing program aimed at making new copper and gold discoveries in the area. 

The discovery is interpreted to be open at depth and along strike.  

Key results include hole BJRC012 with 36m @ 0.99% copper (Cu) from 41m including 6m @ 1.99% Cu from 62m; and hole BJRC010 with 10m @ 1.48% Cu from 182m including 2m @ 5.76% Cu from 184m. 

The company notes results from the recent drilling, in conjunction with the discovery of the new discovery, validate and enhance the ‘high-grade’ copper potential of the 30km Rochford Copper Trend.

Executive Technical Director Kylie Prendergast says the results have put a fresh sparkle into a historic prospect. 

“This is an important discovery with wider ramifications as it further validates and enhances the high-grade copper potential of the Rochford Copper Trend beyond our Canbelego mineral resource located 9km to the north. 

The exploration team is working diligently to unravel the copper mineralisation in the Rochford Trend. These Bijoux results are a tremendous start for the year and bode well for a major 2024 drill campaign currently being planned. We are lining up a series of targets for drill testing on the Rochford Copper Trend, on new emerging trends and the eastern Collerina Trend.” 

Helix Resources is an ‘all-in on-copper’ explorer operating in the prolific copper producing region of Cobar, NSW.

As of 30 September 2023, Helix Resources had $4.214 million cash and cash equivalents at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.  

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Helix reveals Ionick pre-IPO plan

Helix Resources’ (ASX:HLX) wholly owned subsidiary, Ionick Metals, has released its business plan ahead of its proposed initial public offering (IPO) and ASX listing in 2024. 

Speaking to Mining.com.au, Helix Chairman Mike Rosenstreich says Ionick represents an Australian-focused, ‘large-scale’, and advanced nickel-cobalt development opportunity. 

The Chairman notes the upcoming IPO, via an in-specie distribution, comes at a time of a ‘strong’ market outlook for nickel fuelled by increased battery demand.  

Rosenstreich says laterite projects in New South Wales offer a unique opportunity to generate the scale of nickel production over long timeframes, therefore attracting the attention of resource majors and end-use customers. 

Ahead of the Ionick IPO, Helix executed an option agreement with fellow ASX-listed explorer Alchemy Resources (ASX:ALY) to acquire the latter’s 80% joint venture (JV) interest in the West Lynn Project in New South Wales, as reported in November.

Helix said the agreement with Alchemy supports its strategy of achieving a Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) greater than 80 million tonnes (Mt). 

Helix Resources is ‘all-in on copper exploration’ and focused on making discoveries in the producing region of Cobar, New South Wales. 

As of 30 September 2023, the company had $4.2 million cash and cash equivalents at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Helix sets out testing for Bijoux’s copper zones

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) is planning to launch a downhole electromagnetic (DHEM) survey for 3 or 4 holes in the next 2 weeks at its Bijoux copper prospect in the Cobar-Nyngan area of central New South Wales. 

The copper-focused explorer expects the survey results to guide the next phase of drilling to test the sulphide copper zones which are thought to extend vertically from the shallow oxide zones so far intersected over 140m along strike. 

Helix reports multiple copper intersections from scout reverse circulation (RC) drilling at the Bijoux prospect, which is part of an aggressive target generation and testing program aimed at making new copper (and gold) discoveries in the Cobar-Nyngan area of central New South Wales.

Drill testing of the Bijoux target in the southern Rochford Trend was recently completed and this report is a preliminary summary of encouraging observations of copper mineralisation in seven of those RC drillholes.

A total of 9 RC holes (BJRC006 to BJRC014) for 1,716m were completed. Two holes (BJRC007 and BJRC008) followed up on anomalous copper intercepts in 2 holes from 2020 (BJRC001 and BJRC002) and the remaining seven holes were drilled within the recently updated Bijoux copper anomaly. 

Visible oxide and sulphide copper mineralisation was intersected in 7 holes, outlining a 140m NNW-trending mineralised zone that dips steeply to the north-northeast (NNE) and is open to the north and at depth.

Meanwhile, Helix decided to pause drilling to conduct downhole geophysics after observing new copper mineralisation in the 7 RC drillholes at Bijoux. 

Helix Resources Executive Technical Director Kylie Prendergast says this week the company’s geologists are observing oxide-copper minerals, as well as drilling hitting some sulphide-copper intervals reaffirms Helix’s interpretations. 

“These are highly encouraging results, but we need to pause the drilling to utilise downhole geophysics and the drill assays to enable us to better vector the next round of drilling into primary copper mineralisation that we are targeting. 

As Mike (Rosenstreich), a baseball fan, stated during the AGM presentation ‘we are loading the bases’ by building up a large number of copper targets. These results bode well for the major drill program we are planning for 2024 to test many of these new, multi-faceted targets and ‘score some runs’ for shareholders..”

Helix reports some of the ‘significant’ intervals logged include hole BJRC012 with 25m of oxide copper mineralisation, weak to strong malachite from 49m; and hole BJRC010 with 4m of weak to strong chalcopyrite veins up to 5% from 183m. 

Further data is required to resolve the geometry and structure of the mineralisation intersected to date, hence Helix’s decision to conduct DHEM surveys. 

Helix Resources is an ASX-listed minerals explorer primarily focused on exploring in the prolific copper producing region of Cobar, New South Wales. 

As of 30 September 2023, the company had $4.2 million cash at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.

Write to Aaliyah Rogan at Mining.com.au  

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Aaliyah Rogan
Relocated from the East Coast in New Zealand to Queensland Australia, Aaliyah is a fervent journalist who has a passion for storytelling. When Aaliyah isn’t writing stories, she is either spending time with friends and family or down at the beach.

Helix eyes large drill program to test new copper targets

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) has uncovered several new copper targets at its Western Group Tenements (WGTs) in the Cobar-Nyngan region of New South Wales, which warrants a ‘major’ ongoing drilling campaign.

Between 15,000m to 25,000m of drilling has been planned to quickly assess or advance Helix’s top 20 targets in the WGT. Helix notes drilling is likely to start late in the March quarter next year. 

The copper anomalies are being systematically reviewed and field-checked with infill and/or extensional auger sampling also planned for emerging anomalies that are only partly defined. 

Helix says auger sampling will continue over the summer and well into the New Year, with over 5,000 samples planned. Auger sampling is currently in progress on the Collerina Trend in the Eastern Group tenements and will resume shortly on the Mount Lewis Trend in the WGT. 

There are more than 1,000 samples at the laboratory with results expected over the coming months. This work is expected to generate numerous drill targets for testing in the New Year. 

RC drilling is currently in progress at the Bijoux anomaly, with assays results expected in late December 2023.

“We are now gaining real momentum on this strategy and that means we must increase the tempo of our drilling to test what is now a long list of new copper targets

Helix Resources Chairman Mike Rosenstreich says the company is seeing a gush of data and target insights coming through, which highlights the need to focus on this major drilling campaign. 

“We are now gaining real momentum on this strategy and that means we must increase the tempo of our drilling to test what is now a long list of new copper targets. 

Our confidence, that is, confidence across the Helix team comes from the quality of the underlying technical data, which is contributing a new, detailed view of the key geological elements which control mineralisation in this region which we think will improve our ‘batting average’ as we test these targets.”

The $10.45 million market capitalisation company recently received results from a regional scale geochemical sampling and geological mapping program, which revealed 15 new copper targets, in addition to the 51 targets already defined in the WGTs. 

These targets have now been added to the company’s top 20 targets for drill testing. 

A new prospective copper trend, namely the Mount Lewis trend has also been identified from the preliminary geochemical results and regional scale mapping — which hosts several new targets despite only very sparse sampling to date. 

Helix is also continuing to systematically review and field-check copper anomalies, which is currently in progress on its Collerina Trend in the Eastern Group tenements. 

Upon completion, Helix will then move to resume activities on the Mount Lewis Trend in the WGT. 

Helix Resources is an ‘all-in on copper’ explorer focused on discovering resources in the prolific copper producing region of Cobar, New South Wales. 

As of 30 September 2023, the company had $4.2 million cash at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.

Write to Aaliyah Rogan at Mining.com.au   

Images: Helix Resources
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Written By Aaliyah Rogan
Relocated from the East Coast in New Zealand to Queensland Australia, Aaliyah is a fervent journalist who has a passion for storytelling. When Aaliyah isn’t writing stories, she is either spending time with friends and family or down at the beach.

Helix has ‘no cause’ to question West Lynn MRE following queries

‘All-in on copper’ company Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) reports it has no cause to question the accuracy or reliability of the West Lynn Project exploration results following a number of queries.

The company has released additional information to shareholders in relation to the West Lynn Project following some undisclosed enquiries.

As reported by Mining.com.au on 9 November 2023, Alchemy Resources (ASX:ALY) has executed an option agreement with Helix subsidiary Ionick Metals for the West Lynn tenements at Alchemy’s 80% owned Lachlan Projects in New South Wales.

On 19 February 2019, Alchemy announced that a maiden inferred Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) had been completed for the nickel-cobalt zone of the West Lynn Project, an advanced project located 10km west of Nyngan and 40km north of Ionick’s nickel mineral rights.

As per recent announcements, Alchemy confirms the 2019 results showing West Lynn has an inferred MRE containing 21.3Mt @ 0.84% Ni, and 0.05% Co (180,000t of Ni and 11,000t of contained Co). The project also contains an additional alumina resource of 6.6Mt @ 20.8% Al203.

Today (13 November 2023), Helix reiterates that the MRE has been reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012) and was completed by Resource Evaluation Services (RES).

The JORC Code (2012) describes a number of criteria, which must be addressed in the documentation of MREs, prior to public release of the information. These criteria provide a means of assessing whether the data inventory used in the estimate is adequate for that purpose.

Helix confirms it is relying on the reported resource prepared by Alchemy and that it has conducted a technical review of the data prior to execution of the option agreement.

The company says nothing has come to its attention that causes it to question the accuracy or reliability of Alchemy’s exploration results. The company adds that it has not independently validated the previous results and therefore is not to be regarded as reporting, adopting, or endorsing those results.

Helix did not disclose the nature of the queries it has received.

Upon exercising the option and acquiring the West Lynn asset, Ionick Metals proposes to undertake additional drilling to confirm and further expand the resource. As reported on 9 November 2023, the funds raised from Ionick’s proposed $10 million IPO will be used to complete stage one exploration work.

Helix Resources’ broader strategy includes splitting its copper-gold and nickel-cobalt mineral rights, with Ionick’s core assets including the Homeville nickel-cobalt deposit and as of last week, also the West Lynn Project.

For completeness, Helix has released a summary of its existing Homeville MRE which is also reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012). The Homeville MRE was completed in 2018 by Optiro and is reported above a 0.7% nickel cut-off grade. The 2018 mineral resource was publicly reported by Alpha HPA (formerly Collerina Cobalt Limited) on 28 September 2018.

Metallurgical testwork undertaken in 2015 to 20171 examined atmospheric counter-current acid leaching, achieving >90% nickel and cobalt recoveries to produce nickel cathode and a cobalt-carbonate.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

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Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.

Helix and Alchemy consolidate nickel-cobalt assets for Ionick IPO

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) subsidiary Ionick Metals has executed an option agreement with Alchemy Resources (ASX:ALY) to acquire Alchemy’s 80% joint venture (JV) interest in the West Lynn Project in New South Wales. 

Helix says the nickel laterite project holds an inferred mineral resource of 21.3 million tonnes (Mt) @ 0.84% nickel and 0.05% cobalt at a 0.06% nickel cutoff. 

This means when considering Ionick’s Homeville mineral resource of 18 million tonnes (Mt) @ 0.9% nickel and 0.06% cobalt, the agreement increases Ionick’s total nickel resource inventory to nearly 40Mt containing 340,000 tonnes of nickel and 21,000 tonnes of cobalt.

The option deal comes ahead of Ionick’s proposed initial public offering (IPO).

As part of the arrangement, Alchemy will receive 6 million Ionick shares for its 80% of the mineral rights alongside up to 20 million performance rights. 

Helix, which has a $9.29 million market capitalisation, says the agreement with Alchemy supports its strategy of achieving a Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) greater than 80Mt.

Helix reports that the growth outlook for Ionick’s existing mineral resources is supported by numerous ‘high-grade’ nickel-cobalt prospects and early-stage targets outside of the existing resources. 

These targets are home to results such as 24m @ 1.01% nickel (Ni) and 0.06% cobalt (Co) from the Sykes prospect; and 25m @ 0.82% Ni and 0.05% Co, including 8m @ 1.12% Ni and 0.09% Co, from the Browder prospect.  

As of midday AEDT, Helix Resources shares have spiked 14.285% to $0.004.  

The West Lynn Nickel-Cobalt Project covers the nickel-cobalt rights on exploration licences EL8318 and EL8631, which are currently held in the ‘Ochre Resources’ JV between Alchemy (80%) and Develop Global (ASX:DVP) (20%). 

Under today’s agreement, Ionick has the option to acquire Alchemy’s 80% interest in the JV, with Develop retaining its 20% interest. The Ochre JV retains 100% ownership of all the non-nickel-cobalt minerals. 

It all comes as part of Helix’s planned spin-out of Ionick into a separate listed entity. As part of this spin-out, the nickel-cobalt assets in the West Lynn region are being vended into Ionick by Alchemy, Helix, and private explorer Jodama, which holds mineral rights over the tenements. 

The venders will receive a notional consideration of about $3 million to be paid via the issue of about 15 million Ionick shares. Alongside Alchemy’s 6 million shares, Helix and Jodama will receive 7.5 and 1.5 million shares, respectively.

Helix reports that a spin-out of Ionick Metals presents a ‘compelling’ opportunity to unlock the hidden value from its suite of nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metal (PGM) assets. 

Helix notes an IPO is the ‘ideal’ pathway to appropriately fund and resource its development activity, with a business plan being finalised ahead of the proposed IPO. Delivery of the IPO is scheduled for the 2024 June quarter and is hoped to provide Ionick with $10 million.

Helix Chair and Ionick Director Mike Rosenstreich says the option with Alchemy completes a ‘significant local consolidation’ of nickel-cobalt assets and underpins the planned spin-out of Ionick Metals from Helix. 

“A key objective for Ionick will be to define a large-scale, high-grade Mineral Resource Estimate greater than roughly 80Mt. We think this is a threshold for a ‘meaningful’ scale nickel project in terms of production output and mine life to initiate the appropriate feasibility work. 

“This sizable bump in resources, plus the addition of numerous high-grade prospects, provides Ionick with strong momentum towards achieving its critical resource threshold”

This sizable bump in resources, plus the addition of numerous high-grade prospects, provides Ionick with strong momentum towards achieving its critical resource threshold. 

Ionick’s development strategy, which currently emphasises consolidation and development of high nickel-grade and large-scale tonnage, highlights how alert we are to the challenges faced by other laterite projects which have become stranded in terms of interest and financing.“

Meanwhile, Alchemy Resources, which has a $12.95 million market capitalisation, notes the agreement with Ionick provides its shareholders with a potential value accretive opportunity via the spin-out of its non-core nickel-laterite and alumina assets.  

Alchemy Resources Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Wilson says: “When the opportunity arose to join with Ionick into what we consider to be a potentially significant critical metals exploration company in Australia, the rationale was compelling. 

We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Ionick that may see our nickel-cobalt minerals and Alumina portfolio combined with their highly prospective tenement package located in a tier-one mining jurisdiction. 

“The potential spin-out will result in the establishment of Ionick as a well-funded base metals explorer and will provide our shareholders with ongoing exposure to these expanded assets and strategy”

The potential spin-out will result in the establishment of Ionick as a well-funded base metals explorer and will provide our shareholders with ongoing exposure to these expanded assets and strategy. Additionally, the potential spin-out will allow Alchemy to focus on the ongoing development of its high-grade gold and base metals assets at Overflow and Yellow Mountain to the south.”

Helix Resources is ‘all-in’ on copper exploration and focused on making discoveries in the producing region of Cobar, New South Wales. 

Alchemy Resources is focused on the discovery and development of gold, base metal, and nickel-cobalt resources within Australia. 

Helix Resources had $4.2 million cash at hand as of 30 September 2023, according to its latest quarterly report. 

At the same time, Alchemy Resources had $4.369 million cash and cash equivalents at hand as of 30 September 2023.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Helix Resources
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Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Helix spins drill rigs at Bijoux

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) has begun a reverse circulation (RC) drilling program to test a copper anomaly and confirm previous drill intercepts at its Bijoux prospect in New South Wales. 

All up, Helix plans to drill up to 15 holes for 3,000m: an initial 8 holes for 200m and an additional potential 7 holes, also to 200m, to infill or extend any significant mineralisation or alteration struck.

Helix, which has a market capitalisation of $9.29 million, expects the program to take between 4 to 6 weeks, with initial assays to start rolling in from mid-late December 2023. 

Previous extensional and infill auger sampling at Bijoux confirmed and ‘significantly’ upgraded a previous portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) auger anomaly in scale and tenor. 

The company reports the anomaly is currently defined by 98 auger samples with an average of 68 parts per million (ppm) Cu, with peak values of 730ppm Cu and 429ppm Cu. 

Helix Resources Executive Technical Director Dr Kylie Prendergast says much of the ground within Bijoux is underexplored, and the company has taken a ‘modern, methodical, and thorough’ approach to uncovering new copper and gold discoveries. 

“Our recent auger sampling work along the Rochford Trend, such as Bijoux with the multi-element analyses and geological mapping, has enhanced this anomaly in terms of copper tenor and larger scale. 

In fact, it has many similarities to the anomaly associated with the Canbelego Main Lode mineral resource which hosts 32,000 tonnes of copper. 

“Our recent auger sampling work along the Rochford Trendhas enhanced this anomaly in terms of copper tenor and larger scale”

We are very fortunate to have drill rigs reasonably available to use to regularly test the targets we are generating, and we are very pleased to be starting this program at Bijoux today.”

Helix Resources is an ‘all-in on copper’ explorer focused on making discoveries in the producing region of Cobar, New South Wales. 

As of 30 September 2023, the company had $4.2 million cash at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.

Write to Aaliyah Rogan at Mining.com.au  

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Relocated from the East Coast in New Zealand to Queensland Australia, Aaliyah is a fervent journalist who has a passion for storytelling. When Aaliyah isn’t writing stories, she is either spending time with friends and family or down at the beach.

IMARC: Helix to spin out nickel-cobalt play 

Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) is getting ready to spin-off its New South Wales nickel-cobalt play into a new special-purpose vehicle dubbed Ionick Metals amid a management shift. 

Speaking to Mining.com.au on the sidelines of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) on day 2 (1 November 2023), Helix Executive Technical Director Kylie Prendergast says the spin-off follows a consolidation of its nickel-cobalt projects, including the Homeville Nickel-Cobalt deposit, which currently holds an 18 million tonne (Mt) @ 0.9% nickel and 0.06% cobalt Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE). 

Mining.com.au is an official media partner of IMARC.

“We have a nickel-cobalt play; probably, if you benchmark it, it is one of the better nickel laterite projects, with quite high-grade nickel of just over a per cent. We have consolidated a whole suite of these nickel-cobalt projects, and we’re looking to put them into a new vehicle called Ionick Metals, and you will see more about that in a couple of months,” Prendergast says.

“The project is the old Homeville, which has an existing resource, and there is also a suite of other projects and a lot of exploration scale associated with that resource.” 

Prendergast tells this news service that the company is also pursuing potential drilling on its gold projects in conjunction with planning of early-stage work on a new licence just north of ground held by Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS). 

“We are not just about copper; we are also about gold projects, which do fall into our portfolio. We are actually evaluating a couple of gold projects at the moment and hopefully we can get to a drill stage on those as well.

We have also picked up a new licence just to the north of Aeris’s ground, so we look to start early-stage work on that.” 

The Executive Technical Director adds that exploration will be at the forefront of the company’s plans to close off 2023 and begin 2024. 

“We have a very active and proactive team. There are 5 geologsts working and living at the project, so we have no FIFO and we are very busy, with thousands of geochemical samples submitted to the laboratory and waiting for those to come back. 

There are always more samples coming. We are defining new prospects and from that information defining new drill targets. So we expect to be drilling on and off every couple of months as we test a new target, and we will either do more work or we will turn that target over and focus on a new one.

“With 30-40 prospects in our portfolio, the real focus is getting the exploration really efficiently testing and turning those targets over”

With 30-40 prospects in our portfolio, the real focus is getting the exploration really efficiently testing and turning those targets over.”

These activities come at a time in which the company is experiencing a management shift, with Managing Director Mike Rosenstreich taking a step back to allow Prendergast to apply her expertise to the upcoming exploration. 

“We have gotten to the point now where we have delineated and defined one resource. We have got very prospective structural trends with bits of copper all along them, and we are really now in a technical exploration space,” Prendergast says. 

It makes sense for us to leverage my skillset with the team and really try to drive that exploration.” 

More recently, Helix announced the preparation of structural interpretation of the Black Range prospect to guide future drilling, as reported on 25 October. 

Helix Resources is ‘all-in on copper’ exploration within the prolific copper-producing region of Cobar, New South Wales, to generate new copper targets on its ‘large’ and ‘underexplored’ ground position. 

Helix Resources had $4.214 million cash and cash equivalents at hand as of 30 September 2023, according to its latest quarterly report. 

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.

Mike on the mic — Helix’s MD speaks ahead of IMARC 2023: Mining Minute October 25

‘The fundamentals for copper look really excellent from a macro sense’: Helix Resources (ASX:HLX) MD Mike Rosenstreich joins today’s Mining Minute to talk through the company’s recent exploration wins and the wider copper market ahead of the 10th International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney.