Alkane yesterday confirmed another strike of 689 metres @ 0.46g/t gold, 0.19% copper from 402 metres depth from the Boda prospect, stepping out a further 100 metres to the east. This followed up on the initial discovery strike of 502 metres @ 0.48g/t gold, 0.20% copper from 211 metres depth.
We consider this a fantastic intercept, clearly demonstrating consistency and the continuation of grade at depth. We believe the latest result is high quality, having spatially explored a different plane to the discovery hole by apparently skewing to the north. As such we believe the odds of confirming a large scale porphyry system have shortened significantly. Alkane has disclosed that another 2 holes to the south will be drilling along with another to the north, all at 100-metre step-outs. We expect that given the scale and nature of the recent strike, this program will be materially expanded and we expect to see multiple drill rigs on site for the foreseeable future.
Should Alkane confirm sufficient tonnage and grade at Boda, we believe that the deposit will be extraordinarily valuable for several reasons. Most important is the location: in a safe jurisdiction, on flat open grassland, only a 4-hour drive from Sydney and 30 minutes from Dubbo providing a readily available skilled labour force. The economics of mining large mineral deposits in NSW are very well understood given the various operations at Cadia, Northparkes and Cowal. The key levers of any mining operation are: capital intensity, political risk, ore grade, operating cost and byproduct credit value. From our perspective, Boda's geographic location alleviates many of these levers, with of course the scale and ore grade of the deposit still needing to be confirmed by further drilling.
Even though it is still early in the exploration process, there is no doubt that this project would have the attention of all the large Australian miners; BHP, Rio Tinto and Newcrest all who are desperate to increase their exposure to Tier 1 projects on their home turf. The economic potential of large disseminated ore bodies is generally not well understood by Australian investors, which is to their detriment.
Alkane are in the truly fortunate position of being able to largely self-fund exploration at this stage, due to their gold production assets at Tomingley. Tomingley itself has good growth potential with cumulative exploration targets of approximately 2 million ounces on their ground. If successful, this would materially increase the life of mine operations at Tomingley to a range of 10-20 years depending on exploration success. Whilst this is a very handy resource, it is dwarfed by the exploration potential at Boda.
Boda deposit and district-scale exploration potentialAt Boda, Alkane appears to have found the extent of mineralisation to the west, however, they still have not found the high-grade core of the porphyry which provides an indication of how truly significant this deposit may be in time. The current results have effectively only scratched the 'halo' of the porphyry itself.
We speculate this high-grade core lies further to the east at depth. Mineralisation remains open along strike (north-south), at depth and to the east. We note that porphyry districts usually contain multiple, clustered deposits, typified by the Cadia complex which contains 5 separate ore bodies. We expect that other deposits may be found in time within a 3-5 km radius of Boda. We consider the 100m interval step out drilling being conducted to be fairly low risk, considering the number of shallow but low-grade historical strikes.
Alkane suggests that the style of alteration and mineralisation at Boda has several apparent similarities as Newcrest's giant Cadia East deposit (2.9 billion tonnes @ 0.36g/t gold, 0.26% copper), including equivalent grade. We note that in the early stages of the Cadia East deposit, the first 4 successful holes were relatively low grade; it was only once exploration was conducted at depth to the east that the high-grade core was discovered.
West North West (WNW) is an extremely important direction in NSW resources, the Cadia deposits and other major mineralised faults broadly follow this angle. We feel this is replicated by the geometry of the Kaiser-Boda complex with further exploration potential along the Belgian and Sullivan faults which runs towards the south-east. Also, we note that Cadia East and Boda both begin from approximately 200m depth.
Our analysis and review of the historical drilling by Alkane and others in the area leads us to the conclusion that it is likely that Boda is already a substantial deposit in its own right. Mineralised intercepts have already been recorded for at least 500 metres of north-south strike, at least 450m in width east-west and at least 800 metres in depth. Whilst this still needs to be confirmed via step-out drilling, we believe there is clear evidence for a large ore body existing at depth.
There is very strong evidence for district-scale exploration potential evidenced by the purchase of an exploration block by Alkane from Impact minerals for $100,000 mid last year; immediately to the south of Boda.
Alice Queen holds the ground only 600 metres east of the latest Boda drill collar with various faulted structures, most prominent being the Belgian and Sullivan faults, running directly into Alice Queen's large tenement that has never been tested. This ground at Boda East must surely be the hottest exploration ground in Australia, especially considering that Alkane appears to have found the western extent of Boda's mineralisation.
Our research suggests the average width of commercial porphyry deposits to be over 1 km, with multiple deposits clustering within a radius of 3-5 kms. We also note that should Boda prove to hold a commercially viable deposit, it is highly likely that any mining lease application would have to extend into Alice Queen's ground given the nature of cave mining, making this an extremely strategic and valuable parcel of land.
Alice Queen we expect will be very interested in Alkane's results going forward in addition to their exploration works on the other side of the fence. The company controls the entire northern part of the Molong Belt, a large area of approximately 700 square kms. There is no doubt that Alkane among others are observing the efforts of their junior neighbors to the east.
Dubbo Project - Australian Strategic Minerals
The Dubbo Project is one of the world's largest and advanced rare earth projects that are in pre-development. The current large resource supports an open pit mine life of over 70 years making this a strategic and valuable asset, especially considering the anticipated rise in demand for rare earth products over the next 10 years. The project has been fully permitted and front end engineering studies completed; along with completed feasibility studies that have been kept current by the company. The feasibility study was conducted on an initial 20-year base case operation scenario, which provided an NPV of $1.24 billion, however, with a large initial capital outlay of $1.3 billion.
There have been further studies conducted to reduce this figure including a staged, modular design as well as more recently some very promising Korean technology that has the potential to materially reduce the capital expenditure and operational costs of the project. We feel there is potential to materially improve the project's projected financial metrics in the case of success for these various initiatives.
We note the recent appointment of an MD for Australian Strategic Minerals and that a decision will be made before the end of the financial year to demerge or spinoff this project into a separate ASX listed vehicle. Should the demerger go ahead, we expect Alkane shareholders will receive shares in the new listed vehicle in proportion to their shareholding, an attractive proposition considering most spinoffs are value accretive to shareholders and the strong industry fundamentals.
We consider Alkane to be an outstanding investment proposition given its exposure to 3 unique projects, all which have the potential to add material value over the coming months.
Disclaimer: This article does not take into account your investment objectives, particular needs or financial situation; and should not be construed as advice in any way. The author holds shares in ALK & AQX.