BHP (BHP LN) 1505p, mkt cap �88.0bn – Copper exploration success in South Australia
• BHP has announced the confirmation of “a potential new iron oxide, copper, gold (IOCG) mineralised system, located 65 kilometres to the south east of BHP’s operations at Olympic Dam in South Australia”.
• Drilling of 4 diamond-drill holes totalling 5346m targeting a long-standing geophysical anomaly and following up work conducted by Western Mining during the 1970s has intersected polymetallic mineralisation containing copper, gold, uranium and silver and although the “project is at an early stage and there is currently insufficient geological information to assess the size, quality and continuity of the mineralised intersections. BHP is evaluating and interpreting the results reported and planning a further drilling program, to commence in early 2019”.
• Among the higher grade results BHP reports today are:
o A 425.7m long intersection from a depth of 1063m in hole AD-23 which averaged 3.04% copper, 0.59g/t gold, 346ppm uranium and 6.03g/t silver which included a 180m long section from 1070m dept averaging 6.07% copper, 0.92g/t gold, 401 ppm uranium and 12.77g/t silver.
o A 77m long intersection from 1193m in hole AD-25 which averaged 2.11% copper, 0.54g/t gold, 327ppm uranium and 2.94g/t silver and
o A 124.5m long intersection from a depth of 936m in hole AD-22 which averaged 0.52% copper, 0.48g/t gold, 85ppm uranium and 3.37g/t silver
• The company points out that the project exhibits a similar geological setting to that at the Olympic Dam mine “and is located in the eastern margin of the Gawler Craton, within the Olympic IOCG (iron oxide, copper, gold) metallogenic province.”
• The company points to copper and oil as the main focus of its exploration programmes and points out that, in addition to targeting the Stuart Shelf area of South Australia which hosts this project and Olympic Dam, it is targeting “Ecuador, Canada, Peru, Chile and the south west of the United States” for copper.
• BHP recently increased its holding in Solgold* which recently updated the mineral resource estimate at its Alpala project in its Cascabel project in Ecuador to an overall total of 2.05bn indicated tonnes at ana average garde of 0.6% copper equivalent plus a further 900mt classed as inferred at an average grade of 0.35% copper equivalent. The wider resource contains a high grade core pf 420mt at ana average grade of 0.9% copper equivalent and Solgold is currently preparing a Preliminary Economic Assessment ahead of more detailed feasibility studies.
Conclusion: Major mining companies are typically quite coy about discussing early stage exploration projects and it is interesting that BHP is particularly highlighting this project in South Australia as well as its worldwide focus on copper exploration. We look forward to further news as exploration develops.
*SP Angel acts as broker and advisor to Solgold