Advanced gold and copper explorer Alice Queen (ASX: AQX) and its larger joint venture partner St Barbara (ASX: SBM) have embarked on a maiden diamond drilling campaign ahead of schedule on Horn Island in Far North Queensland’s Torres Strait.
Alice Queen today reported the 4,500m 14-hole program, which was scheduled to start in October, commenced on Sunday 27 September.
In today’s announcement, Alice Queen managing director Andrew Buxton said the company is “very excited” to have commenced its first diamond core drilling program under the joint venture with St Barbara.
“The IP anomalies that we are targeting with the drilling are of a significant scale so we are all very optimistic about the potential of this program to expand on the already very exciting Horn Island story,” he said.
Another drilling program – phase one of a 33-hole reverse circulation (RC) infill drill program for 4,100m – is currently being mobilised to commence “shortly”, Alice Queen reported. St Barbara is not participating in this campaign as it is within Horn Island’s existing inferred resource, an excluded area of the joint venture agreement.
It follows the recent completion of a 1,440m six-hole resource extension drill program within the excluded areas, of which all core has been processed and first assays are expected in late October.
St Barbara joint venture
Mid-tier gold miner St Barbara entered into a joint venture with Alice Queen in June 2019 to earn 70% of areas outside of specific excluded zones by spending $4 million over three years.
The excluded zones include Horn Island’s existing 492,000-ounce inferred gold resource, the historic mine infrastructure including certain road areas and a decant water dam, historic waste dumps, low-grade ore stockpiles, run-of-mine pad and all alluvial gold across the island to a depth of 5m below surface.
After spending the $4 million and electing to move to 70%, St Barbara will then have the option to purchase all or part of the excluded zones at “fair value”.
Alice Queen, via its subsidiary Kauraru Gold, has the right to continue with its 30% stake of further expenditure to maintain its equity position through to production.
The joint venture is now in its second year. St Barbara achieved the first year’s minimum expenditure requirement, $500,000, in February.
During the 2020 financial year, a soil and rock chip sampling program followed by a ground dipole-dipole induced polarisation survey identified several coincident geophysical-geochemical targets with an intrusion related gold and pathfinder signature.
Two main targets located near the Horn Island gold resource, Tatooine and Naboo, are the primary focus of the diamond drilling program.
St Barbara had earlier confirmed up to $2 million for further drilling to test both targets.
The Horn Island pit inferred resource, 7.9 million tonnes at 1.9 grams per tonne gold for 492,000oz, is located adjacent to the abandoned Horn Island pit, where gold production ceased in 1989.