Exploration veteran John Lauderdale heads up transformational change at Kavango Resources (KAV)

Kavango Resources (LSE:KAV) is one of this year’s few success stories in the small cap exploration space.

As the wider market has seen across the board declines in share prices of 30% to 50%, plucky Kavango’s stock has more than doubled. Excitement about the company’s drilling campaign in the Kalahari Suture Zone (“KSZ”) has certainly attracted investor interest, but there is much more happening on the ground in Botswana that points towards a bright future for this ambitious firm. Last week’s operational update is a perfect case in point.

A key part of for any company working to fulfil its promises is to ensure it has the right expert team members in place. For an exploration company, the quality of boots on the ground is essential…

Enter John Lauderdale, Kavango’s recently appointed Group Consulting Geologist.

New to the company, but certainly not to the exploration world, Lauderdale brings a wealth of experience to the firm that will help it greatly as it moves into its next exciting phase of growth.

Here, Lauderdale talks Mining Maven through his history before joining Kavango, and how he believes his experiences can benefit the company’s established operations in Botswana.

Strong pedigree and belief in Kavango’s potential

Lauderdale, a well-travelled industry veteran, has been working in Africa since 1984, shortly after graduating from the University of Bristol.

Over a celebrated career, he has worked in almost every country in the continent, from Morocco to South Africa, as well as also spending time in South America.

So, when someone with that much experience in minerals exploration describes the Kavango’s KSZ project as “potentially absolutely mind-blowing” – it’s certainly encouraging.

In fact, as Lauderdale himself puts it:

“The KSZ project could be a real company maker. There are some extremely good indicators already, but now Kavango needs more data, and that’s where the drilling program is going at the moment.”

Given his experience, Lauderdale is the perfect individual to guide Kavango as it continues to build up this picture.

Indeed, highlights of his career before joining the company include making the decision to “peg all the ground around the Gecamines holdings” when he was exploration manager at African Minerals.

African Minerals is a Central African subsidiary of the Ivanhoe Group, and the area around Gecamines is where the world-class Kamoa copper-cobalt discoveries were made.

Alongside this, Lauderdale also spent time running exploration programs for ENRC Group in Congo – a very efficient period where his small exploration team “drilled 250,000 metres in around two and a half years”.

Bottom line is, the lessons learned from these sorts of massively successful exploration projects will be extremely useful to Kavango as its investigation of the KSZ continues.

As Lauderdale himself highlights, the numerous and varied exploration programs he has run across Africa give him a wealth of insight that he can bring to his new role:

“I’ve done everything from tiny little operations the size of a wheelbarrow, designing exploration programs for guys who can’t afford a drill rig, right through to FTSE 100 companies with a $40 million to $80 million a year budget. Over the years, I’ve covered pretty much all of the kinds of projects that Kavango is looking at.”

Pushing forward in the Kalahari Copper Belt and at Ditau

Particularly relevant to Lauderdale’s new role is his previous work conducting exploration on the Central African Copper Belt.

This fits perfectly with Kavango’s growing project areas in the Kalahari Copper Belt (“KCB”). The KCB is an almost 1,000km mineral belt where, similar to the Central African Copper Belt, copper mineralisation is hosted in a sedimentary basin or rift.

A sedimentary basin is an area of the Earth’s crust where subsidence (when the Earth’s surface sinks) is dominant, causing sediments to accumulate. Rift-type basins occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates that are moving apart from each other.

Lauderdale “spent a long time on the Central African Copper Belt doing exploration”, and notes that many lessons learned on the Central African Copper Belt “have been directly applied to the Kalahari Copper Belt with great success”.

Another key relevant area of Lauderdale’s experience applies to Kavango’s Ditau Camp Rare Earth Elements Project, located in south west Botswana and part of an equally owned joint venture (“JV”) with Power Metal Resources (LSE:POW).

You see, Ditau focuses on carbonatites – a type of rock and the principal source of rare earth elements that are a particular interest of Lauderdale’s, thanks to his early work in Zimbabwe.

During this time in his career, he identified two carbonatites while working as a regional mapper for the Zimbabwean government. Since then, he says, he has “always been interested” in the formations since that’s how his career in Africa began.

Of course, Lauderdale has come a long way since then.

In that time, he’s learned the value of “doing something real” by creating value not just by looking for minerals but also in terms of human capital.

In the DRC, for example, Lauderdale ran exploration programs for ENRC Group back when it was a FTSE 100 company. He explains that it was the tight-knit and hard-working nature of his team there that delivered such quality results:

“We ran a very small exploration team but we had 28 rigs. I think we drilled 250,000 meters in about two and a half years. The team was, if I say it myself, extremely well run, and we converted a lot of the historical resources into reportable resources for the Stock Exchange.

“We also found a new style of nickel mineralization, which, as it turned out, was very similar to something that had been located by First Quantum Minerals, in the Northwest Province of Zambia. We had a very, very good exploration team. It was small and the guys worked their socks off.”

Primed for success…

Lauderdale’s drive to create value in a real, tangible way definitely suits Kavango.

After all, this is a company with a portfolio of potentially world-class metals exploration projects in Botswana, one of the Africa’s most favourable jurisdictions for doing business. Lauderdale’s experience makes him the perfect person to help see Kavango through to making one or more major minerals discoveries.

As Lauderdale himself sees it, his role is to design programs that ultimately find what the company is looking for on the ground – not just at the KSZ but also in the KCB and at Ditau. As he says:

“I know where we want to try and get to, I know what the bigger picture is, and then it’s really designing the steps to get there.

Successful exploration requires proper planning, hard work and discipline. Ultimately the rocks are the rocks, but it is our job to zero in on the most prospective zones and prepare those for drilling as quickly as we can. We have a huge amount of ground to cover, which presents both a considerable challenge and great opportunity.  

I’m really excited to have joined a company as ambitious as Kavango, which has both the vision to make large-scale discoveries and to become an active investor in Botswana itself. This last point is really important and I hope to make a meaningful contribution to our future success.”

With someone of Lauderdale’s calibre now in the field, Kavango’s shareholders can expect to see the company make significant strides forward in the coming months. With eagerly anticipated drill results to come from the KSZ and then likely drilling in the KCB and then Ditau, there is plenty of upside left in the company’s stock.

If Lauderdale’s enthusiasm is matched by success on the ground, Kavango’s shares could well break out to new all-time highs. 

Author: Anna Farley

The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance



Red Rock Resources reinforces its compelling story with exciting Australia and Kenya updates (RRR)

Every great success is made up of smaller successes, and it’s those smaller victories that ultimately lead to a win.

Red Rock Resources (LON: RRR) is right now enjoying a slew of these kinds of small and cumulative successes across its portfolio, and the latest reports from Kenya and Australia have gone a long a long way to proving this once again.

In Kenya, exploration in the historically underexploited Eastern Licence of the Mikei Gold Project is proving fruitful as new targets are identified along strike from the existing Resources.

Meanwhile, at the Victoria Goldfields in Australia, the company has unearthed workings and areas that can be drilled later this year.

The drilling for cobalt and copper in the Congo has been completed, and the company, which was sufficiently confident to build a camp before drilling at Luanshimba, has gone quiet as it awaits final results from the lab. Now, Red Rock is using the period before it announces exploration results to complete some long lead time license transfer paperwork before it announces exploration results,  

Here, Red Rock’s chairman Andrew Bell walks Mining Maven through the significance of his firm’s latest update and Red Rock’s ambitions.

If the firm can indeed make a discovery at one of the “really exciting” targets Bell describes, then a considerable re-rate from its current sub-£10 million market cap could be just around the corner.

Victoria joint venture unearths “enticing targets”

From Australia comes an exploration update from joint venture (“JV”) subsidiary Red Rock Australasia (“RRAL”) – an entity owned 50.1% by Red Rock and 49.9% by Power Metals Resources (LON: POW).

Victoria was the site of a gold rush back in the mid-1800s after a discovery in Ballarat in 1851 resulted in a riot of activity in the state. At one point, an astonishing one third of the world’s gold production came from Victoria.

While production dwindled after that, interest returned in 2005 when commercial mining started at the Fosterville mine and the State Government started to produce a series of geophysical studies. Fosterville was subsequently bought by Kirkland Lake Gold (NYSE:KL) and is now one of the highest grade and lowest cost gold mines on Earth.

Since Kirkland’s success, explorers have returned to the area, seeking their share of the riches on offer in Victoria.

The latest news reveals the JV’s success so far in the state – with critical steps including the discovery of workings, well-developed adits, and shafts at the O’Laughlins prospect, located in already granted license EL 007271.

Given the lack of prior reports or indications of historical grade so far in the literature, it looks like this will be the first modern day exploration in these once-forgotten workings since the 1860s.

Bell outlines the extent of the discovery here:

“We think that we have a channel with two distinct lines of mineralization with old workings along them, production from which is unrecorded. But you can see a lot of money was put in the 1860s, and we think there’s possibly another similar channel in the middle and there may be shearing or cross-cutting faults.”

As Bell explains, the structures could even turn out to be an offset to the east of the Ballarat trend going through the Ballarat mine.

With safety requirements now complete, RRAL’s geologists are re-entering the old workings at O’Laughlins. There, they’ll investigate how much gold mineralisation was historically exploited, and the nature of that mineralisation.

The re-entry programme also includes the additional underground excavations and shafts located in the immediate area, with the hope of better understanding the lode systems. The aim is also to improve targeting ahead of scheduled diamond drilling.

Bell says the company has identified “some really exciting, enticing targets”. Specifically, there are two or three areas where the plan is to “book the drills to start diamond drilling at the end of November or beginning of December”. 

As Bell comments:

“We think that the prospects now are quite good, that we’ll be able to piece together good-grade resources around old mines workings, which would together potentially support a processing plant.

“With each announcement, and with each piece of news we come out with, we are laying out a little more of the picture of what we potentially have, and what the next steps can be in exploration and drilling.”

It’s these individual pieces of news that go into making the investment case for Red Rock. When put together, they reveal a company undertaking active exploration in some of the most prospective regions on the planet.

Multi-million-ounce potential at Mikei

Strengthening its investment case further, Red Rock also posted an update on the Mikei Gold Project in Kenya.

The company revealed that it has completed 115 line km of induced polarisation (“IP”) surveying in the Masurura area of the Eastern licence. What’s more, because it has its own geophysics team and equipment, Bell highlighted that the firm was able to do so with great efficiency.

Explorers use IP surveys as one tool to identify gold deposits, along with additional metals like copper and silver. The chargeability map generated from this IP survey coincides well with the presence of artisanal miners, as well as the soil geochemical contours already delineated. The map also coincides with shallow historic drilled assay intercepts.

Red Rock’s survey recorded a total of four important anomalous areas in Francis 2, Francis 3, Lake Bush and Lake Bush Banded Iron Formation. Today, work continues and will focus on prioritising targets and locations for a 2022 drill programme.

Mikei is a powerful project, covering “nearly 250 square kilometres along a Greenstone belt with 24 good targets”, as Bell says. This belt is the next along from the parallel North Mara mine – operated by Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD).

North Mara lies 30km away, over the border from Mikei in Tanzania. Both projects are on the northern part of the Tanzanian Craton, which crosses into Kenya.

As Bell explains, North Mara is what Barrick calls a “tier one asset”, putting it among their top mines with production at “nearly 200,000 ounces a year”.

Bell goes on to add that:

“In the last seven or eight years, North Mara has gone from looking like a declining mine to one which, having produced 3 million ounces since 2002, has another 5 million-plus ounces of resource and reserves – including underground at higher grades than we were seeing a few years ago.

“Ultimately, I think when we look back on it, we will say that was a 10-million-ounce mine.”

The latest Kenya release also mentions that drilling continues in the Western licence at Mikei, though has been interrupted by an equipment breakdown.

Red Rock is bringing in an additional compressor so as to improve penetration and recoveries where graphitic shales around the water table level have impacted drill performance.

Bell is enthusiastic about the drilling in the Western licence, noting:

“We’ve already begun to be able to model something underground and say where the higher-grade zones are, and how we think the structure works. Each new hole we drill can be positioned to give us more information in relation to what we already have.”

So, there’s the promising existing drilling in the Western licence, and then there’s the potential in the Eastern licence as well – as shown in these new IP survey results.

If the Eastern and Western licences reveal what the company thinks they might, Bell says, the potential is huge.

“If we find something there, then we could start talking about a target of not just one or two million ounces, but potentially three or four million,” says Bell, “but the ground will not give up all its secrets quickly, or cheaply”.  

With so much on offer, then, it’s imperative to look not just at individual releases, but to put them in context and focus on the bigger picture.

“Making progress all the time” – Red Rock’s efforts continue to bear fruit

Shares in Red Rock are up 8% since September began. At the same time, the shares remain below their heights back in February – making this an affordable point to buy.

There tends to be this tendency among exploration investors to wait to for a single moment of victory, of triumph, the long-awaited result.

But this short-sighted outlook prevents investors from taking a company in as a whole, and understanding its merit. It puts people on the back foot, waiting for something big to happen instead of taking action.

In Bell’s words:

“It’s been quite difficult to get across the fact that we are in three jurisdictions – Congo, Kenya and Australia – actually drilling this year.

“Even when we’re not announcing ‘today we had dramatically good drill results’ we are still making progress all the time. We’re doing things that add to the story. Not everything we do is going to produce an instant headline, but we’re building the picture. You have to focus out on the big picture. We are currently working in three countries with three projects which we believe can deliver three mines.”

The case for Red Rock is compelling enough when taken in these small updates, but is stronger still when taking the span of the company’s history into account.

As newsflow builds – with drilling in so many jurisdictions in this year alone – the chance to get in on the ground floor is unlikely to last.

Author: Anna Farley

The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

Thor Mining’s Galloway Warland on Alford East’s “exceptional” promise (THR, THORF)

It’s a momentous time for Thor Mining (AIM: THR |ASX: THR | OTCQB: THORF), as more and more encouraging results arrive for the Alford East copper-gold project.

Each new result seems better than the last, coming together to paint a truly impressive picture. 

And, as that picture takes shape, the company’s appeal continues to grow.

Here, Nicole Galloway Warland, the firm’s managing director, speaks with Mining Maven about the South Australian copper-gold project.

Latest results find new and exciting high-grade zone

Warland praises the “exceptional grades”, at Alford East so far, with values far exceeding the Mineral Resource Estimate (“MRE”) grades.

“Not only are the grades exciting, but we’re highlighting new zones of mineralisation,” she explains.

Latest results, revealed last month, showed a new, broad zone of high copper and gold grades from near-surface in hole 21AED005.

The values are certainly impressive, too, most notably including 72.7m at 1.0% copper and 0.19 grams per ton (“g/t”) of gold from 6.3m – including 18.2m at 2.0% copper and 0.34g/t gold from 15.8m.

With these, plus significant intercepts already reported for holes 21AED001 and 21AED002 earlier in August, the oxide mineralised system at Alford East has really hit a new level.

Those previously unveiled intercepts included 32.9m at 0.4% copper and 0.31g/t gold from 81.5 m at hole 21AED001, as well as hole 21AED002’s 59.9m at 0.31% copper from 21.9m.

In the release at the end of August, Warland commented that “the confirmed uplift in copper and gold grades along the controlling NNE structure continues to excite and exceed the directors of Thor expectations”.

She added then that the company was looking forward to testing the structure, which remains open along strike both to the north and south.

With so much to come, the managing director’s ambitions for the project are certainly taking shape.

Creating a “double-green” project

Moving forward, there are plenty of plans underway for Alford East—which currently stands at the proof-of-concept stage with the ultimate goal of in-situ copper and gold recovery.

Alongside core samples, Thor is also collecting groundwater samples at the project to conduct hydrogeology tests and determine the right lixiviant to use.

Lixiviants are liquid mediums capable of extracting a chosen metal from ore or minerals and form a part of Thor’s ultimate plan for “green copper extraction”, Warland tells us.

By “green” she explains that the goal is for exploration and development to carry a smaller environmental footprint thanks to the absence of both the open cut and tailings dam traditionally associated with mining.

But, on top of that, she says that the mine is also green in the sense that all of this effort is to obtain copper – an essential element when it comes to sustainability. Copper is vital, as Warland points out, for “solar farms, wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries” and many other parts of the low carbon revolution.

On the subject of copper, given the metal is so necessary for creating a sustainable future, it’s unsurprising that t its price hit a record high in May this year. Indeed, Warland cites this–alongside the price of gold–as a key motivator behind Thor’s decision to maximise its focus on Alford East, in conjunction with its Ragged Range gold project in the Pilbara WA.

And, to this end, the company is moving away from its USA tungsten interests.

Thor streamlines with non-core tungsten project sale 

As the picture Thor is painting at Alford East takes shape, and the investment case grows ever clearer, the company is working to streamline its wider portfolio.

Thus, alongside the Alford East news at the end of August, the company revealed an option agreement to divest its non-core Pilot Mountain tungsten project.

Motivation for the move, as Warland explains, comes from a decision to focus on that copper-gold core. This is especially true given the “large sum of money” it would take to bring Pilot Mountain to production.

Covid-19 also played a role in the company’s sale of the project, since it presented such a major obstacle to travel.

“We felt that Pilot Mountain was a distraction to us rather than a core asset, and we’re encouraged by the option agreement,” Warland says.

Thor will sell the project, located in the US state of Nevada, to Power Metal Resources (LON: POW).

The deal’s agreed value is $1.8 million – that includes an initial $25,000 cash plus 500,000 shares at an issue price of 2.5p (worth £12,500) for a 60-day option period. This option period allows Power Metal to complete due diligence and acquire the project.

Upon the option exercise, Power is to pay a further $115,000 in cash plus $1.65million in shares, that’s 48 million shares total at 2.5p each.

The deal also includes 12.5 million warrants to subscribe for more Power shares at 4p each – the life expiry on these being three years.

Finally, an additional $500,000 milestone payment to Thor is also possible should Golden Metal publish a Pilot Mountain JORC or 43-101 compliant resource within the next two years. This increases by 25% against the existing declared levels across both the indicated and inferred categories.

So far, Pilot Mountain only has a JORC 2012 indicated and inferred resources estimate for two of its four known deposits. The most recent, conducted in 2018 for the Desert Scheelite deposit, showed 10.7 million tonnes at 0.26% tungsten trioxide, 19.38 grams/tonne silver (Ag), 0.15% copper, and 0.38% zinc.

Garnet is the other deposit with a JORC 2012 indicated and inferred resources estimate, finding 1.83 million tonnes at 0.36% tungsten trioxide.

In mining, an inferred resource refers to the portion of the mineral resource based on limited geographic and sampling information. An indicated resource is more substantial, requiring enough evidence to support mine planning and evaluate deposit economics.

And the disposal isn’t the only big change for the firm. Executive chair Mick Billing tendered his resignation at the start of September to pursue his own personal and business interests.

Bottom line is, it’s these moments of change that often present some of the best opportunities for investors.

Potential shines through with more results to come

Results from Alford East are clearly boosting share price performance. Since those first results from holes 21AED001 and 21AED002, the explorer value has increased 7%.

With so much to look forward to, including further assay results over the coming weeks from Alford East, and the commencement of RC drilling at Ragged Range in October, there could be plenty of catalysts for a further rise on the horizon.

If we think of Alford East as a picture, the current stage is something like an underpainting – the first paint layer that serves as a base for all future layers.

Already, there are signs of something exciting starting to take shape. But as the picture the company is painting grows clearer, the chance that others will spot the opportunity and push the share price higher increases.

And, with the price still affordable and more results to come, right now could be just the right moment for investing – before others spot the opportunity.

Author: Anna Farley

The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, does not own a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

Everything falls into place as Thor Mining prepares for “game-changing” quarter (THR)

It's an exciting time for Thor Mining (AIM: THR).

Strong results have repeatedly been coming the company’s way, with sampling and drilling cementing faith in its high-quality assets.

Not only that, but the explorer has also been boosted by government funding, giving it an excellent opportunity to push its portfolio towards its true potential at an even greater speed.

Now, with such a powerful foundation in place, managing director Nicole Galloway Warland has taken the time to walk MiningMaven through what could be a “game-changing” period for Thor over the coming months.

Exciting times at Ragged Range

Galloway Warland begins by highlighting the “really positive” quarter that just passed for Thor at its Ragged Range gold project.

Perhaps the most significant development at the site, which is located in Australia’s Pilbara region, was the completion of a geochemical soil sampling survey.

This work involved taking an impressive 392 samples over two locations within an exciting area of Ragged Range known as the Sterling Prospect. The pair—known as Sterling Central and Sterling South—both lie within a previously identified 13-kilometre gold corridor at the project.

Bulk Leach Extractable Gold results found a background of around 2 to 3 parts per billion (“ppb”) of gold at the prospects, as well as sample values as high as 114.23ppb. According to Galloway Warland, these new results “compare really well” to previous stream sediment high-grade gold results on the corridor from sampling in 2019 and 2020. 

Now, based on the strength of these soil results, Thor is embarking on an infill program with the goal of generating drill-ready targets. As Galloway Warland explains, this marks a “really big strategic and discovery step” for the company that could very well end up being a “game-changer”.

On top of the Sterling prospect, there’s also a new tenement application in the northeast of Ragged Range, covering a number of historic mines with historic high-grade copper-gold workings. Once the tenement is granted, the company will conduct regional work there.

Galloway Warland notes that, while Thor’s focus is “primarily on the Sterling prospect and identifying drill-ready targets”, this new tenement is part of a host of “other activities in the area” that make Ragged Range so exciting.

Add in the demand for gold, with prices up sharply since the start of the pandemic amid lingering economic uncertainty, and the project’s appeal is obvious.

And remember that funding? Well, Thor was awarded A$160,000 from the Western Australian Government to allocate to Ragged Range.

These extra funds will help the company reach the next stages of the project at a faster pace, and show the support in place for the project.

Even better, Ragged Range isn’t the only area of Thor’s portfolio supported by local authorities…

Funding and findings at Alford East

On top of Ragged Range, Thor’s projects in Australia also include Alford East—though the primary focus here is copper rather than gold.