WHISTLER, B.C. — When it comes to project generators, there aren’t many companies with a global reach quite like Vancouver-based Eurasian Minerals (TSXV: EMX; NYSE-MKT: EMXX). The company is active across Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, and now the Australian state of New South Wales is its latest exploration destination.
The first thing to note about Eurasian’s Koonenberry project in NSW is that, as far as gold is concerned, it is in the middle of nowhere. The property package lies 250 km northeast of the prolific Broken Hill silver-lead-zinc deposit, with the closest known gold occurrence 250 km north at the Kookaburra deposit. But according to Eurasian’s Australian business unit manager Chris Spurway, a prospecting rush over the past decade caught the company’s attention.
“Speaking from a geological perspective, I think we’re on a new orogenic gold belt in western New South Wales, and it is an area that has traditionally been overlooked,” Spurway explains in an interview at the Society of Economic Geologists’ “Whistler 2013: Geoscience for Discovery” conference. “There were some government incentives in the region through the late 1990s and early 2000s, which attracted some attention, but it’s been low key. There has been gold found out there for generations, but these guys have sort of been keeping it under their hats.”
Eurasian’s senior consulting geologist David Royle headed out to the area next. He noted many gold nuggets held friable and crystalline gold embedded in quartz-vein matrix materials, which is different from other eluvial occurrences in the region, where gold is found in a rounder and more transported form. Eurasian concluded that a fresh-rock source might be closer than many suspected.
Structurally Koonenberry lies adjacent to the northwest-trending Koonenberry fault, which in turn bounds the eastern edge of the Precambrian Broken Hill block. The Koonenberry fault is a major crustal-scale lineament that forms the edge of the Delamerian orogen.
A transpressional-stress regime prevailed late in the Delamerian event and led to northwest-striking fault splays, which locally occur on the eastern margin of the Koonenberry fault zone. The splay faults form several local “half-grabens” filled with turbidite sediments and minor limestone, which often host gold mineralization.
“We’re dealing with Cambrian-age rocks that have been weathered and covered by millions of years of fluctuating climate changes,” Spurway adds. “It’s gone from wet periods and inland oceans to deserts and semi-deserts we’re seeing now. That has resulted in a deep weathering profile. Some of the drill holes we were punching last year were getting down over 100 metres vertically in weathered rock. What we believe is that we have a Victorian slate-belt gold scenario.”
Eurasian amassed a large land position, with its original tenements totalling 2,500 sq. km. Spurway has taken on managing regional exploration, and brings substantial experience with regolith terrains. Eurasian has since reduced its property holdings to around 1,000 sq. km regionally, and Spurway says the company is focused on an area that is 50 km long by 30 km wide.
Rock-chip samples that Eurasian pulled from mineralized bedrock returned 8.71 grams gold per tonne from veins that contain visible native gold, 4.07 grams gold from quartz-sulphide veining and 1.13 grams gold from a stockwork zone exposed along the margins of a mafic intrusion.
Spurway notes the northwest trend of gold occurrences are mostly parallel to the regional structural fabric and associated with soil- and stream-sediment gold anomalies, as well as alteration and quartz veining.
“In Canada you’re dealing more with glacial till, whereas in Australia we’re dealing with these weathered profiles that have a different behaviour in terms of elemental geochemistry,” Spurway says. “We feel we have a really good handle on what we’re doing, with the pathfinder elements leading us towards a fresh-rock discovery. It’s a bit more complicated that pure soil sampling, but isn’t quite as glamorous as fresh-rock geochemistry.”
Spurway and his team have identified bedrock gold sources in at least eight areas at Koonenberry, with a number of structural and conceptual drill targets identified for the project. The company also has identified anomalies based on stream and sediment sampling.
“What we’re focusing on now is actively seeking a partner for the project, and we believe we can continue to operate and add value to the asset through our exploration methodologies,” Spurway says. “We’ve amassed skills and ground experience in the region, and we think we have something that we’re really ready to advance here.”
Shopping the asset to prospective partners is all part of Eurasian’s business model. The company is not conducting much exploration in the region due to capital market conditions, though it has spent around US$3.5 million in exploration since acquiring the project.
Eurasian reported US$16.4 million in working capital at the end of June, and had 73 million shares outstanding at press time for an $89.3-million market capitalization.
Eurasian shares traded within a 52-week window of $1.02 and $2.57, and most recently closed at $1.23 per share.