After finishing a 16,000-metre winter drill program in April, Mawson Resources (TSX: MAW; US-OTC: MWSNF) is getting ready for a 12-month exploration program at its flagship Rompas gold property and Rajapalot gold-cobalt property, just south of the Arctic Circle in Finland’s Lapland.
The program is set to begin in June with base-of-till, regional drilling. It will then break into a mid-year drill program and a year-end drill program. Mawson will target different areas seasonally based on permitting restrictions. The only month it can’t get much work done is May, when melting snow creates poor conditions.
The company has 13 exploration permits in Finland, each with its own limitations. Rajapalot, for example, is part of a biodiversity program that limits drilling to the winter, unless it’s hand portable.
As a result, upcoming exploration at Raja, a target on Rajapalot, will not include drilling, but a ground-based, electromagnetic survey instead. The company has drilled the prospect as far as 400 metres downhole, but says it’s visible down to 900 metres on an airborne geophysics survey.
“The obvious thing to do is really nail that down so we can target it with much greater accuracy, come December,” Mawson president and CEO Michael Hudson says in an interview with The Northern Miner.
The summer program will run from August to November and cover as much as 5,000 metres on Rompas’ Hirvimaa and Mannisto targets. The company then says it will “ramp it up again” for the winter program, which starts in December, and runs until April. Targets for the winter drill program will come in part from work done this summer.
The company is also in the midst of a 3,000-sample cobalt assay program that could run until August. So far, only three of the 16 holes at Raja have been assayed for cobalt, including hole 75, which graded 1,299 parts per million cobalt and 6.2 grams gold over 10.8 metres, from 8.7 metres downhole.
“Gold may be more variable, but the cobalt looks consistent,” Hudson says. “It might also work very well politically for the project.”
Finland hosts the world’s largest cobalt refinery, Freeport Cobalt, 400 km south of Rajapalot in Kokkola. According to Mawson, the country refines half of the world’s cobalt supply outside of China. However, it mines just 650 tonnes, or 0.5%.
In March 2018, Finland’s minister of economic affairs met with Sweden’s minister of economic affairs in Brussels. The two agreed that Finland and Sweden would create an accountability certificate to verify the ethical sourcing of minerals.
“There’s this political desire to have a sustainable and ethically sourced supply chain,” Hudson says. “And we’ve got this potential domestic supply that can hit the market at some point, and that makes a hell of a lot of sense in this political environment.”
The company’s winter drill program consisted of 75 holes and 90 km of ground magnetics. It has announced 40% of its results, and is still processing and assaying drill core. Hudson says that 80% of drilling went into Rajapalot, with the initial drilling testing the edges of Rompas when it started the program in November 2017.
Mawson’s land package in Northern Finland exceeds 160 square kilometres. Rompas is a striking ridge, with 6 km of subcrop that’s part of a 10 km trend, measuring as much as 250 metres wide. Mineralization at Rompas is high grade and nuggety. Mawson recovered Finland’s best ever assay when it intercepted 617 grams gold per tonne over 6 metres from 7 metres downhole, including 1 metre at 3,540 grams gold back in 2012. But Mawson isn’t looking for high-grade veins at Rompas anymore.
“There are no higher grades that I’ve seen in my entire career than at Rompas,” Hudson says. “The challenge for us with Rompas is to find that same style as Rajapalot.”
Mineralization at Rajapalot is more dispersed. Hudson describes it as a sediment-hosted style that covers a 12 sq. km area and is open in all directions.
Mawson acquired Rompas in 2010 when it bought all of Orano Canada’s Finnish portfolio. Wanting to “secure its backyard,” it staked a lot of ground near Rompas. When it hit permitting issues, it expanded its search for gold further, and, in 2012, discovered Rajapalot 8 km east.
The company recently announced five drill holes from its winter campaign. The best graded 17.7 grams gold over 4 metres from 246 metres downhole. The company also intersected 3.3 grams over 5 metres from 144 metres downhole and 3.6 grams over 2 metres from 154 metres downhole.
Shares of Mawson are valued at 32¢ within a 52-week range of 29¢ to 65¢. The company has a $50-million market capitalization. As of late May, the company had $12 million in cash. It pegs its budget for the next year at $10 million and says it has no shortage of targets.
“We don’t want to be bulls in a china shop, and just exploring and not pulling things together,” Hudson says. “But we can’t ignore that exploration upside and focus too early on what may not be the better part of the system.
“We’re basically putting 50% from a budget point of view into pulling known areas together and putting tonnes around them, and then 50% still exploring.”