Monday morning saw ECR Minerals (LSE:ECR) announce the imminent launch of a third drilling programme in Victoria, Australia. The firm has signed a contract for 450m of rotary air blast (RAB) drilling at the Black Cat gold prospect within its Bailieston gold project area. The work is expected to begin this month.

RAB is a low-cost drilling method, which ECR says is particularly well suited to Black Cat. It adds that it expects the technique to gather geological information in an ‘efficient and cost-effective manner’.

Black Cat is among the high priority targets identified by geophysical interpretation and targeting studies completed by Terra Resources at Victoria in late 2017. The prospect is located immediately south of ground recently applied for by resources giant Newmont Exploration.

The site is yet to be drilled but contains 220m of historical workings along three known lines of quartz reef. This holds strong gold-in-soil anomalism that indicates unworked reefs could remain at depth. Meanwhile, rock chip sampling of quartz-poor material suggests the potential for disseminated gold, with grades of up to 11.3g/t of the precious metal.

ECR chief executive Craig Brown said that Black Cat is located at the ‘epicentre’ of the current gold exploration boom in Victoria. He highlighted the prospect’s proximity to the successful Fosterville mine owned by Kirkland Lake Gold.

‘This point is underlined by the arrival of Newmont Exploration in the district with an application for ground immediately to the north of the Black Cat prospect,’ he added. ‘Notwithstanding our active operations we are keen to maintain strict budgetary cost control and it is notable that the use of RAB drilling at Black Cat is a particularly low-cost method of exploration and will enable us to gather geological information in an efficient and cost-effective manner.’

The news comes during a particularly busy period for ECR, with the business also preparing for two further drilling programmes in Victoria. At the end of last month, the firm announced that it had signed a contract for 4,000-6,000m of reverse circulation drilling in the region.

ECR said its first target is its Creswick Gold Project, where exploration mapping has identified a large gold system within the Dimocks Main Shale (DMS). The DMS is a 15km-long hard rock geological feature and the source of much alluvial and deep lead gold. Drilling will target multiple quartz vein orientations identified within the DMS.

Once this has completed, drilling will then move to the firm’s Blue Moon gold prospect, which is also located at Bailieston. Here, ECR will follow-up a significant near-surface gold intercept and evidence of a near-surface mineralised gold system. The drill target here is a sandstone that has been weathered heavily near the surface. However, ECR believes it may host higher grade gold mineralisation, including disseminated sulphides, at deeper levels.

In Monday’s announcement, Brown said he had made final arrangements to begin the two drilling programmes in a recent trip to Australia.

‘The rig engaged for that programme is expected to start work at Creswick in the coming days and will be moved to Blue Moon after the Creswick holes are completed,’ he added. ‘The Company is now moving forward with three drill programmes to investigate gold mineralisation at multiple targets across its extensive gold focussed portfolio in the state of Victoria, Australia. ECR is now an active gold exploration business, aiming to deliver on its strategic objective to discover a multi-million ounce gold deposit.’

Alongside its various drilling updates, last month also saw ECR announce that it had submitted applications for the nine exploration licences that make up the Windidda gold project in the Yilgarn region of Australia. The area has been identified as a gold exploration opportunity because it has the potential to contain Archaean greenstones beneath shallow cover. Archaean greenstones host many of Western Australia and the world’s most prolific gold deposits.

The under-cover greenstone gold exploration model has already been tested successfully by Greatland Gold at its nearby Ernest Giles project. Furthermore, ECR’s licence applications also cover a large proportion of an identified gravity-magnetic trend with known gold prospects along trend to the south.

Previous exploration at Windidda has only targeted base metal and manganese deposit within cover sequences. ECR expects its target areas to be amenable to aircore drilling. It hopes this will enable it to make a rapid assessment of their potential for gold mineralisation.

Author: Daniel Flynn

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