Kavango Resources (LSE:KAV) rose 1.9p on Monday after revealing the imminent launch of its next phase of airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveying over Botswana’s Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ). Importantly, the company also revealed that it has contracted a high-power new technology to carry out the work. It expects this to ramp up the speed at which it can highlight potential copper, nickel, and PGE mineralisation in the area dramatically. Speaking exclusively to MiningMaven, Kavango’s exploration director Mike Moles told us the significance of this development and how it could help the company in its quest to identify Norilsk-like mineralisation at the KSZ.

Surveying targets

In Monday’s update, Kavango announced that it has now mobilised the second phase of its AEM survey. The work is being carried out over the business’s 15 prospecting licences in Southwest Botswana. Much of this sits on the KSZ, which is a highly-prospective, 450km2-long magnetic anomaly.

Kavango hopes to identify massive sulphide orebodies containing vast amounts of nickel, copper, and platinum group elements beneath the KSZ’s surface. Mining consultant MSA Group has backed the potential presence of these deposits on the KSZ, which was first explored in the 1980s and 1990s. Meanwhile, Kavango has suggested that the area has a similar geological setting to the giant Norilsk copper/nickel deposits in Siberia.

The airborne EM survey is the first stage in the company’s efforts to identify these sulphide orebodies. It detects and prioritises potential locations for these deposits, which Kavango can then follow up with more detailed groundwork and drilling.

Flying for the second phase of the survey is expected to begin later this month, with the first phase completing at the end of last year. It will take between four to six weeks to complete and will cover up to 2,062 line-kilometres in the Hukunstsi area of Botswana.

The highlight of Monday’s announcement was the news that Kavango has contracted the services of a leading airborne geophysical survey player called SkyTEM for its latest phase of work. SkyTEM offers a ground-breaking, high-power surveying system that has been optimised to reach a depth of up to 300m below the earth’s crust.

It reaches these depths by using a high current and low base frequency of 12.5hz. According to Kavango, the technology has not been used in Africa before and is more effective than the older systems currently on the market.

Increasing efficiency

Moles tells us the technology will allow Kavango to investigate for orebodies at a much deeper level and with higher resolution than it was able to in the first phase of its survey.

The company identified 26 conductive anomalies over 2,000 line-km of the KSZ project during this stage of work. However, the technology used did not penetrate deep enough beneath the surface. As such Kavango was unable to tell which anomalies were low priority near-surface conductors like clays and shales and which went much deeper.

In layman’s terms, the deeper an anomaly is, the more likely to be prospective for mineralisation. This makes it a higher priority drilling target for Kavango.  As such, the firm was forced to carry out groundwork on all 26 targets to determine whether they were worth following up. Moles tells us this was a difficult task that took longer than expected to complete.

He believes the new technology will make it much easier for Kavango to differentiate between the two types of anomalies.

‘We will immediately be able to see which conductors have a depth component to them and represent high priority targets. Likewise, it will be much easier for the business to identify and ignore those surficial conductors that are very often just clays and other conductive materials that lie within the first 50-60m below the surface,’ he told us.

‘The technology we contracted in Phase One used a much higher frequency and was not getting deep enough to differentiate between the shallow and deep targets. If we had SkyTEM’s technology back in September when we launched the campaign, we could have reduced the number of conductors worth following up from 26 to about six or seven straight away. Using our new approach, we should be to turn over these conductors much more quickly in Phase Two.’

To assess the effectiveness of SkyTEMS’ technology, Moles told us that Kavango also plans to run lines over some of the areas it surveyed in Phase One and compare results. However, he tells us he is already very confident that the results will be positive:

‘We are confident that this new technique will work. A huge amount of test work has been completed in the past to demonstrate its effectiveness. We think it will represent major step forward in our exploration strategy.’

If Moles’ confidence translates into results this could prove to be highly significant for £2.5m valued Kavango. Since listing last summer the company’s story hasn’t attracted a great deal of attention, despite the progress it has made on the ground. Exploration plays can be extremely racey stocks and with the size of target Kavango is going for, the deployment of the new technology could give it just the edge it needs. 

Author: Daniel Flynn

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