ECR Minerals (LSE:ECR) rose 9pc on Thursday to 0.9p after announcing that it has received significant gold assays from its Blue Moon prospect in Victoria, Australia.  

The firm has recently completed a reverse circulation drilling programme at the site, which is based within its 100pc-owned Bailieston project area. Assays for three holes have now returned showing both high-grade intervals and significant widths of anomalous gold grades.

Highlights include 2m at 17.87g/t gold from 57m in a hole called BBM007 within a zone of 15m at 3.81g/t from 51m. Meanwhile, hole BBM006 returned 3m at 3.88g/t gold from 170m downhole within a zone of 11m at 2.42g/t gold from 169m.

According to ECR, these results indicate that a high-grade zone exists at Blue Moon with the firm’s target sandstone host. The business said further results and work will be required to understand any concentration of mineralisation within shoots.

ECR chose to investigate the sandstone in January because, despite being heavily weathered at surface, it believes it could host higher grade gold mineralisation, including disseminated sulphides, at deeper levels. This followed its discovery of a significant near surface gold intercept and evidence of a near-surface mineralised gold system in July last year.

Craig Brown, chief executive at ECR Minerals, said on Thursday: ‘These results quantify the field geologists’ assessment of visible gold at Blue Moon during drilling of BBM007 and provide great encouragement for the Company and the Bailieston gold project. To achieve an intersection of 17.87g/t gold over 2 metres is notable. But also of significance is that this was part of an intersection of 15 metres at 3.81g/t gold from relatively shallow depth.’


A map showing the location of drill holes at Blue Moon

Thursday’s update came during a particularly busy time for ECR. Alongside Blue Moon, the organisation is drilling at its Creswick gold project in Victoria.  Here, it is targeting multiple quartz vein orientations within the Dimocks Main Shale (DMS), a 15km-long hard rock geological feature and the source of much alluvial and deep lead gold. Exploration mapping by the company has identified a large gold system within the DMS. Last month, the firm said drilling to date had intersected quartz reefs as anticipated.

Elsewhere, the business launched an additional 450m drilling campaign at its Black Cat prospect in Bailieston last month. Black Cat is among the high priority targets identified by Terra Resources in 2017 and has not previously been drilled. The candidate is located immediately south of ground recently applied for by resources giant Newmont Exploration.

Earlier this month, the company said it had intersected wide zones of alteration in seven holes, with quartz veining in another two after completing 250m of drilling. Meanwhile, 77 samples have been delivered for laboratory assay testing, with results awaited.

Victoria resurgence

The acceleration of ECR’s drilling activity comes amid a resurgence of interest in Victoria. This follows the success of Kirkland Lake Gold at Fosterville, which is now one of Australia’s premier gold mines. After drilling to greater depths at the historic mine, Kirkland discovered multiple high-grade zones. The work increased Fosterville’s mineral reserves by 60% to 2.7MMoza grading 31g/t gold and Kirkland expects to produce 550,000-610,000oz of gold from the mine this year.

Against this prospective backdrop, operating costs at Victoria remain very low by industry standards. This ideal dynamic has attracted global attention, with worldwide major Newmont Mining setting up shop in the region alongside ASX-listed firms like Chalice Gold Mines, Petratherm, and Nagambie Resource.

According to Earth Resources Regulation, gold production in the area hit a six-year high over 2017-18 at 364,225oz. Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics claims that exploration activity has also soared, with expenditure enjoying an 81pc year-on-year increase to $73.3m in 2017-18.

Finally, alongside its various drilling updates, January 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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