Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) and Japan Gold (TSX-V: JG) have kicked off geophysical-gravity surveys in the Asian country’s Hokusatsu Region, as part of a joint effort to uncover the nation’s gold mining potential.
Under a venture formed in February, known as Barrick Alliance, the companies have completed bulk leach extractable gold (BLEG) and rock chip sampling over eight of the 14 targets located in Southern Kyushu Epithermal Gold Province.
The projects, covering a 328 sq. km area, are in Japan’s largest gold producing region, with recorded output of over 11 million ounces.
The regional exploration program, initiated in May, will help the alliance evaluate the overall project portfolio. From there, both companies will determine which areas have anomalous gold showings and potentially fertile large structures.
Barrick has committed to solely fund a two-year initial evaluation phase of 28 out of 30 projects Japan Gold already has in the country.
The Canadian gold giant will also finance a third year of exploration on assets that meet its criteria.
Once the Toronto-based miner completes a pre-feasibility study (PFS), it will earn a 51% interest and may choose to fund a designated project to a bankable feasibility study (BFS). The completion of a BFS will fully carry Japan Gold and earn Barrick a 75% interest in the project after which Japan Gold will retain a 25% interest.
Japan Gold has recently expanded its portfolio to reach a total of 30 projects. These cover more than 40 historic gold mines over an area of approximately 1,900 sq. km, spread across the country’s three largest islands: Hokkaido, Honshu and Kyushu.
The company’s southernmost projects are found on Kyushu Island, where it has 16 gold projects in the area of the Hishikari mine. Significantly, Hishikari has been producing since 1985, generating 7.9 million oz. so far at average grades of 30-40 grams gold per tonne, making it one of the highest-grade deposits under active mining globally.
Japan Gold has attracted interest from other majors, including Newmont (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM), which has a 13% stake in the Vancouver-based junior.
The world’s number one gold producer became involved with Japan Gold in 2018, when Goldcorp (now part of Newmont) provided financing.
As part of the deal, Goldcorp was granted a joint venture right of first refusal on two projects, the Ohra-Takamine and the Ikutahara project.
Those assets are excluded from the Barrick Gold strategic alliance.