When thinking of Power Metal Resources (LON: POW) and its Tati project, the expression ‘strike while the iron is hot’ springs to mind.
This is a company that, just a week after announcing it had exercised its option to acquire 100% of the gold-nickel project, revealed it had already completed a phase I programme.
The same programme that, two weeks later, has now confirmed large-scale gold and nickel in soil anomalies.
Quick, decisive action is part of the company’s philosophy according to exploration manager Oliver Friesen, who took the time to speak with Mining Maven about this highly exciting opportunity and the phase I programme itself.
Taking action – Power Metal pursues drill-ready stage at Tati
Towards the end of July, Power Metal announced it had exercised its option to acquire a 100% interest in two exploration licences – both located in Botswana’s prolific Tati Greenstone Belt (“TGB”).
Just one week later, the company had completed its phase one work programme at the project – including mapping, prospecting, and robust geochemical sampling.
And the results from the first batch of analysed samples are now in, with exciting gold and nickel exploration targets now emerging.
Asked why the company had moved so quickly, Friesen highlights the firm’s mandate to “bring on projects that we like and explore them quickly”.
He explains that Power is also reluctant to “sit on projects” and prefers to strive forward, getting results and deciding the course of action “in relatively short order”.
As Friesen puts it:
“We bring projects on and try to explore them right away. We aim to advance them to a drill-ready stage, we drill, and then we make a decision on what to do next.”
Exploration targets emerge at Tati
In the Power Metal’s latest release, chief executive Paul Johnson said:
“It is now confirmed that we have substantial nickel and gold exploration targets emerging and we are following the pathway needed to make major discoveries.”
In total, the company collected 1,107 soil samples and 49 rock samples – exceeding the originally planned 1,000 soil samples – from five grid areas at Tati.
Results are in for 727 of these samples, from grid areas 2 to 5, analysed using portable field X-Ray Fluorescence (“XRF”) equipment. XRF equipment can analyse samples and determine the concentration of certain elements like nickel and arsenic.
At grid 2, geochemical results highlight a high-tenor nickel-in-soil anomaly, which is approximately 1,000m by 200m – which coincides with the mafic intrusive body already mapped by the government.
Mafic rocks are a type of igneous rock, formed as magma cools and solidifies, containing high levels of magnesium and ferric oxides that give it a recognisable dark colour. They are the type of rocks that host large world-class nickel-copper deposits worldwide.
In total, 23 of the 80 total samples taken at grid 2 returned more than 500 parts per million (“ppm”) nickel, while 50 impressively returned more than 100ppm.
Notably, the nickel anomaly now defined at grid 2 lies only 15km southeast of the Tekwane nickel mine, with Tekwane hosted in mafic intrusive units of the same age as those mapped on grid 2.
At grid 3, meanwhile, 79 of the 354 samples returned over 100ppm arsenic and up to 1,098ppm. Geochemical results from grid 3 highlight a 3,000m long high-tenor arsenic-in-soil anomaly with a width ranging between 500m and 200m. The anomaly trends northwest-southeast, and remains open at both ends.
Meanwhile, according to geochemical results so far, the grid 4 north-south trending arsenic-in-soil anomaly measures around 1,000m by 400m.
This grid 4 anomaly, importantly lies along the geological contact zone between two areas: the Last Hope Formation and the Eastern Succession Volcanics. This position is analogous, geologically speaking, to the Signal Hill gold mine located a mere 2.5km southeast along the same geological structure.
Thanks to the analogous geological position and proximity to Signal Hill, as well as arsenic’s strong pathfinder status when it comes to gold in the TGB, grid 4 is a priority exploration target for Power Metal moving forward.
Grid 5, too, is a priority exploration target – being less than 5km from the Tekwane, Selkirk, and Phoenix nickel mines. Geochemical results from this grid area highlight a northeast-southwest trending nickel-in-soil anomaly measuring roughly1,500km by 300m.
Results from grid 5 give further credence to the idea, suggested by prior operators in the TGB, that the mafic intrusive units hosting the nearby nickel mines extend further southeast than previously mapped.
Activity returns after nineteenth-century gold rush
Of course, Power Metal also has strong reasons to follow through when it comes to their Tati projects in particular.
Indeed, the TGB lies not far from Francistown, an area close to the Zimbabwe border and the site of the first Southern African gold rush dating all the way back in the nineteenth century. Since then, there has been little extensive modern exploration.
Encouraged by the historical data, Friesen says, the company looked to “get some boots on the ground” to confirm and expand on preliminary observations.
As he explains, historic work has made it clear there are “some really interesting anomalies that need to be followed up on”.
Mapping has found several old mine workings. These included historical trenches, mine shafts, and adits (entrances to underground mines) on both of the licences.
Power is now considering a phase 2 programme, with ground-based geophysics, before the planned Rotary Air Blast drilling programme planned for later this summer.
The company already has put down a deposit for future drilling at Tati, with Friesen expecting such work to start before September end.
Vital Commodities, the firm Power Metal optioned the Tati properties from, has a drilling division. And the services they offer formed part of their agreement.
This presents a definite advantage when advancing the project, with the company able to move straight to drilling when it wishes and take a full-throttle approach to exploration.
A powerful legacy and a friendly jurisdiction
Aside from Power Metal’s own mandate, there are plenty of other reasons to pursue this project wholeheartedly.
For example, Friesen points out that exploration companies are always looking for projects with successful nearby operations – whether current or historic. This is because they lend confidence to the idea that a particular belt of rocks is capable of hosting economic deposits.
With this in mind, he highlights that the TGB is a “well-known mining district” brimming with orogenic style gold deposits – orogenic deposits being the primary source of gold.
In fact, the TGB was reportedly home to more than 70 small-scale gold mining operations during the former gold rush there.
Greenstone belts make up “some of the most prolific gold deposits that you can find anywhere in the world”, Friesen notes. Greenstone belts in Canada, for example, contain “many 5-million-plus-ounce deposits”.
Not only that, but Tati also contains a number of sulphide deposits rich in nickel, copper, and platinum group elements (“PGEs”). PGEs are a collection of highly valuable metals that share similar properties and are usually found together in what are called magmatic sulphide deposits.
Just as important, Friesen says, is that in Botswana “the jurisdiction and the government are supportive of putting mines into production”.
With all of these elements in place, the company has every reason to keep moving forward.
Of course, getting the right people on board is another essential factor.
Friesen, who officially joined Power Metal three months ago, has been heavily involved with Tati and bringing in local expert Charles Byron. Friesen describes Byron as “the world’s preeminent expert in the Tati Greenstone Belt”.
Byron has worked with other companies who have shown an interest in the TGB, including Canadian mining company B2Gold (TSE: BTO). His input on the technical and operations side at Tati has proved invaluable, and gives “that much more of a chance to make a potential discovery”.