Advanced gold explorer Navarre Minerals (ASX: NML) will expand the scope of its highly prospective St Arnaud gold project in the Bendigo-Stawell Zone of western Victoria after receiving priority status over a key exploration licence application.
Following a competitive application process, the state’s minerals regulator deemed Navarre the preferred owner of the main areas of the goldfield covered by exploration licence ELA 6819 which includes the Bristol, New Chum and Nelson lines of reef.
The auriferous reefs extend for approximately 5km and dive under Murray Basin cover to the north, where Navarre’s drilling on granted exploration licence EL 6556 has previously identified gold and silver mineralisation extending for at least another 5km.
The new ground consolidates the 400,000 ounce St Arnaud goldfield and surrounding tenure, providing access for Navarre to follow-up legacy drill hits such as 1m at 1,174 grams per tonne gold from 425m under the historic New Bendigo mine workings.
The intercept was part of a 2008 diamond drilling campaign by Rex Minerals (ASX: RXM) and is believed to now have new meaning following the 2015 discovery of the Eagle-Swan orebodies at the nearby multi-million ounce Fosterville gold mine owned by Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX: KLA).
New gold rush
Navarre managing director Geoff McDermott said the award of priority status comes at a time when the state is embarking on a new gold rush.
“Victoria is experiencing a gold exploration and mining boom off the back of record gold prices and the success of the world-class Fosterville mine,” he said.
“The expansion of our tenement package at St Arnaud will strengthen our quality pipeline of exploration opportunities within one of Victoria’s premier gold districts.”
He said the company would be looking to replicate the success it had in discovering gold under cover at the high-grade Tandarra project, 50km northwest of Fosterville.
Exploration at Tandarra is being conducted in joint venture with Catalyst Metals (ASX: CYL), targeting the next generation of gold deposits under shallow cover in the region.
Navarre has also applied for two additional exploration licences along the north-western and eastern sides of the St Arnaud goldfield, covering an area of 997sq km.
The licences are prospective for gold and silver mineralisation associated with several major thrust faults believed to be conduits to the transport high-grade gold and silver mineralising fluids.
If granted, the licences would boost the St Arnaud project’s total acreage to 1,364sq km.
A planned program of work over the licences is expected to include mapping of the goldfield’s geology and historical mine workings; geochemical soil and rock chip sampling in areas of exposed basement; and computer modelling of historical mine workings, including their geology and structure.
St Arnaud goldfield
The St Arnaud goldfield consists of the West Field, New Bendigo (Bristol), Nelson (including New Chum line), Little Boulder and East Field lines of reefs which were worked to the southern edge of the Murray Basin cover.
Nelson has historically produced the most gold and has been worked over a strike length of approximately 5km to a maximum depth of 685m in the deep Lord Nelson mine.
The historic mine was the only one of its kind to produce gold from sulphide ores below a depth of 120m, with records showing a total of 323,000oz recovered.
Most other mines closed on reaching the water table because the technology was not available to economically treat the sulphide ores in addition to the added cost of pumping mine water.
In 2018, Navarre’s maiden reconnaissance drilling program demonstrated the potential for economic mineralisation of the St Arnaud goldfield to extend under shallow Murray Basin cover more than 5km beyond the limits of historic workings.
The best gold result was 4m at 6.6g/t gold from 48m, while the best silver result was 1m at 67.4g/t silver from 50m.
Navarre’s exploration focus has been on understanding the geological controls on gold mineralisation in the exposed basement areas within the goldfield, tracing the mineralised reef systems along strike from historical workings and under shallow cover and following through with drill testing.