VANCOUVER — Things look to be heating up for junior explorer WCB Resources (TSXV: WCB) on the small island of Misima around 630 km southeast of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The company has been quiet on the news front for nearly a year, but seems to have spent that time wisely, based on an Oct. 7 maiden resource from its Umuna zone that includes some eye-opening gold and silver numbers.
WCB is in the process of spending around US$8.5 million to earn a 70% interest in a 180 km2 slice of Misima Island from Pan Pacific Copper, which is jointly owned by JX Nippon Mining and Metals and Mitsui Mining and Smelting. Though the company was initially chasing copper porphyry deposits – due to the presence of a high-order copper stream sediment anomaly – it turns out there is some serious precious metal potential across the mineral concession as well.
WCB acquired the Misima mines database from a Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: ABX) subsidiary in late 2012, which Barrick had in turn acquired when it picked up Placer Dome in 2006. Between 1989 and 2004 around 86 million tonnes were mined on Misima at an average grade of 1.46 g/t Au and 15.6 g/t Ag, with recoveries pegged at 91.5% Au and 43.9% Ag over the life of the mine.
Barrick’s databases gave WCB access to a substantial array of surface sampling, including 11,900 soil samples, 2,900 rock samples, 4,900 trenches and 26,000 channel samples. Also included were 2,640 exploration drill holes, of which 2,613 have assay data, and 467,000 located blast hole assays.
It took some time for WCB to review such a large quantity of data, but it paid off when the company announced an open pit, inferred resource at its Umuna zone that totals 43 million tonnes grading 1.1 g/t Au and 6.1 g/t Ag for 1.6 million contained oz Au and 8.5 million contained oz Ag.
It should be noted that 7 million tonnes are in oxide material at an average grade of 0.8 g/t Au and 14 g/t Ag, while 36 million tonnes are classified as fresh rock at an average grade of 1.2 g/t Au and 4.7 g/t Ag. Cut-off grades for oxide and fresh material are 0.36 g/t Au and 0.5 g/t Au respectively, while WCB’s conceptual open pit is constrained by a US$1,100 per oz Au price.
Umuna is described as a continuous region of gold and silver mineralization, which WCB notes has previously been commercially extracted via a continuous open pit over a strike length that exceeds three kilometres. Umuna is interpreted to represent a major fault zone within which mineralization is typically developed in areas of increased fracture density and shearing. Mineralization within the zone is developed as disseminations, stockworks, fracture vein networks, breccias, skarns and replacements.
“This resource is an important milestone for our company as, firstly, it demonstrates the upside and potential of this project and, secondly, transforms WCB from a pure exploration group to a company with a potential development and commercialisation scenario,” commented president and CEO Cameron Switzer. “We have significant extension potential both at depth and along strike. Amazingly, this is just the gold project and does not include the porphyry copper-gold-silver project or the Quartz Mountain project, both of which continue to impress with early stage exploration results.”
WCB released results from a channel sampling campaign across its porphyry target in early July. The company reports that mapping and channel sampling have now been completed over an area that exceeds 800 metres by 500 metres, with over 450 channel samples collected.
Sampling has confirmed the existence and continuity of highly anomalous copper-gold-silver geochemistry in the interpreted peripheral levels of a large porphyry copper-gold system, with channel assays highlighted by 171 metres grading 0.36% Cu, 0.33 g/t Au, and 10.1 g/t Ag across bench 2.
WCB will likely take its new gold-silver resource to market in a bid to raise funds. The company reported $944,000 in cash at the end of March, and has reported no subsequent financings.
WCB’s shares popped around 22% following news of the Umuna resource before closing at 39¢ per share at the time of writing. The company has traded within a 52-week range of 16¢ and 65¢, and maintains 31.3 million shares outstanding for a $12.2 million press-time market capitalization.
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