VANCOUVER — When it comes to project generators there are not many companies with a global reach that rivals Vancouver-based outfit Eurasian Minerals (TSXV: EMX). The company remains active in a number of jurisdictions across Europe and the Americas, and it appears that the Australian state of New South Wales could yield its next highly prospective exploration opportunity.
The first thing to note about Eurasian’s Koonenberry project is that, as far as gold is concerned, it is literally in the middle of nowhere. The company’s property package lies around 250 km northeast of the prolific Broken Hill silver-lead-zinc deposit, with the closest known gold occurrence another 250 km due north at the Kookaburra deposit. But according to Eurasian's Australian business unit manager Chris Spurway, a prospecting rush over the past five to 10 years 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 during an interview. “There were some government incentives in the region through the late 1990s and early 2000s, which attracted some attention, but it's been under the table. 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 Dave Royle subsequently headed out to the area. Royle noted that many of the gold nuggets were comprised of friable and crystalline gold embedded in quartz-vein matrix materials, which marks a notable difference from other eluvial occurrences in the region, where gold tends to be found in a more rounded and transported form. As a result, Eurasian concluded that a fresh-rock source might be closer than anyone suspected.
According to Eurasian’s geological model, 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 leading edge of the Dalamerian Orogen.
A transpressional-stress regime prevailed late in the Dalamerian event, and led to the development of a series of 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 that are preferred host rocks for 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. I mean some of the drill holes we were punching last year were getting down over one hundred metres vertically in weathered rock. Essentially, what we believe is that we have a Victorian slate-belt gold scenario.”
Eurasian quickly amassed a large land position, with its original tenements totalling around 2,500 km2. Spurway was put in charge of a regional exploration initiative, and brings substantial experience with regolith terrains to the table. Eurasian has since reduced its property holdings to around 1,000 km2 regionally, and Spurway says the company is mainly focused on a core area that is around 50 km long by 30 km wide.
Reconnaissance rock chip samples Eurasian pulled from mineralized bedrock returned 8.71 g/t Au from veins that contain visible native gold, 4.07 g/t Au from quartz-sulfide veining, and 1.13 g/t Au from a stockwork zone exposed along the margins of a mafic intrusion.
Spurway notes that the northwest trend of gold occurrences are predominantly 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 here in Australia we're dealing with these weathered profiles that have a different behavior in terms of elemental geochemistry,” Spurway continues. “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 little 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 maintains a list of anomalies identified during 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 adds. “We've amassed skills and ground experience in the region, and we think we have something that we're really ready to advance here.”
And shopping the asset to perspective alliance partners is all part of Eurasian's business model. The company is not currently conducting much exploration in the region due to capital market conditions, though it has invested 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 maintains 73 million shares outstanding for an $89.3 million press-time market capitalization. Eurasian has traded within a 52-week window of $1.02 and $2.57, and closed at $1.23 per share at the time of writing.
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