Independence circling Creasy’s Fraser Range discovery

Barry FitzGerald

Independent Journalist

Word on the street is that prospector Mark Creasy has made a large nickel-copper discovery 25km from Independence’s Nova project .. and Independence is negotiating to buy it from Creasy, who is also its biggest shareholder. Plus, more exploration results fuel talk of Rio’s ‘big copper find in WA’.

Our most successful “prospector”, Mark Creasy, has just notched up 50 years in the game and he is in a reflective mood.

“I’ve got a half a century up and I was just wondering when will I start producing daisies,” Creasy said.

But when asked about strong industry speculation that he has notched up yet another discovery, Creasy was tight-lipped.

The talk is that he has made a nickel-copper discovery about 25km north-east of the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine in WA’s Fraser Range, now owned by Independence Group (IGO) following its $1 billion takeover of Sirius Resources in 2015.

Nova was found in 2012 on ground Creasy first started picking up back in 1979 when drawn to the region in a hunt for space junk from the crash to earth of the US space station Skylab.

Creasy is now IGO’s biggest shareholder with 16% as a result of the Sirius takeover.

So there should be no surprise in the hot gossip that IGO is in talks with him to acquire his new discovery given the value to be had in a development of the rumoured find being able to leverage off Nova’s infrastructure base.

Now it has to be said that Creasy would not confirm he has made a discovery, said by the rumour mill to be shaping up as something about one-third the size of Nova.

“I can’t tell you anything about it at the moment. What can I say? We are reviewing some of our exploration data and it’s under review. I’ve been exploring in that area for many years,” was all he would say.

But public domain satellite imagery does suggest Creasy is on to something. The image shows a 200m by 250m area which looks as if it has been the subject of carpet bomb drilling on 25m-spaced drill lines.

Earlier images suggested an early-stage exploration project was underway. But the latest image suggests an ore delineation program could be underway ie a discovery has been made.

IGO would not buy into the speculation on either the existence of the discovery on its doorstep, or that it was in talks with its biggest shareholder to acquire the property.

“We do not comment on market speculation,” was IGO’s response.

What is certain is that both Creasy and IGO believe the 400km-long Fraser Range geological belt has more than one classy nickel-copper-cobalt deposit to found hidden away beneath the belt’s extensive cover.

It has been suggested that Creasy has being spending as much as $10m annually on his privately held ground to find the next big one. IGO, in the meantime, allocated $30m to the hunt (including looking for potential extensions of the Nova intrusive) for the all-but-gone 2018 financial year.

The pregnant pause between Nova’s 2012 discovery and a new find is despite more than 20 companies drilling more than 80 valid targets. As time has gone by, many of the juniors and majors that rushed into the region in 2012 have packed up and gone home.

IGO has been hoovering up all the ground from the disheartened it can, and now holds a 14,300sqkm position. Despite that effort, it seems Creasy has beaten it to the punch in finding the next best thing to Nova, assuming the speculation is on the mark.

Obviously any deal to acquire the Creasy discovery will be heavily scrutinised because of Creasy’s IGO shareholding.

But a deal that rewards Creasy for his efforts, while providing a major value uplift to IGO through the addition of truckable reserves to Nova’s current 10-year life, would be a classic win-win.

The broader industry would also be a winner. Should the Creasy discovery be confirmed, those that remained committed to the Fraser Range hunt will pop back on to the radar.

And those that left when the going got tough will rush back in to pick up what crumbs IGO has left on the table.

Paterson heats up (again):

As mentioned here previously, the broader industry is also waiting on confirmation by Rio Tinto that it has made a sizeable copper discovery in the sand dunes of WA’s remote Paterson province.

Confirmation of the discovery, indicated by satellite imagery to be 120km north-north-west of Newcrest’s gold-copper mine, would fire-up interest in a bunch of juniors that have tenements elsewhere along the Paterson belt.

Having said that, interest in the Paterson has stretched in recent days all the way to London’s AIM market where active Paterson explorer Greatland Gold plc is listed.

It shares have surged 170% to 191 pence since June 21. The first leg-up came from news its field crew had recovered “multiple pieces of gold” as the company put it, where nuggets would have done, from surface sampling at the Black Hills project, 30km east of Newcrest’s Telfer.

A second leg up for Greatland came this week with the release of assay results from the adjacent Havieron prospect. It was a 121m intersection from 497m grading 2.93g/tonne gold and 0.23% copper, including 11.5m at 21.23 g/tonne and 0.67% copper from 568.5m and 0.5m grading a bonanza 137g/tonne gold and 1.8% copper from 573m, which got punters in the old dart excited.

Havieron was drilled by Newcrest between 1991-2003 but high grade hits weren’t part of the story back then.

Havieron sits in the south-east of a structural corridor which runs all the way up to, and beyond, the site of the rumoured Rio copper discovery in the north-west. And while the rocks being tested at Havieron are deep, that’s not the case elsewhere in the corridor.

Antipa Minerals (AZY), trading at 1.4c is a case in point. The structural corridor extends for about 85km on 100% owned Antipa ground and for 25km on its Citadel joint venture with Rio which is adjacent to and along strike from the rumoured Rio discovery.

The majority of the rocks of interest on Antipa’s ground are under less than 50m of cover, as demonstrated at its 100%-owned Minyari-WACA gold-copper-cobalt deposits, 40km from Telfer. The focus there in 2018 is to explore for extensions to enable a scoping study to get going into their development.

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Barry FitzGerald
Independent Journalist

One of Australia’s leading business journalists, Barry FitzGerald, highlights the issues, opportunities and challenges for small and mid-cap resources stocks, and most recently penned his column for The Australian newspaper.

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