West African gold explorer and developer Azumah Resources (ASX: AZM) has discovered a new “blind” high-grade eastern lode beneath the Bepkong deposit at its Wa gold project in Ghana.
The lode was intersected earlier this month at the start of a 40,000 metre multi-target drilling campaign.
It is believed to be associated with a major structurally-controlled “fluid conduit” system which could extend mineralisation at Bepkong to considerable depth.
The first of three drill holes hit a semi-continuous 93 metre mineralised zone grading 2.33 grams per tonne gold from 261m including 9.9m at 8.42g/t gold from 295m; 2.16m at 21.17g/t gold from 303m; and 0.5 at 88.71g/t gold from 338m.
Two complementary holes designed to test for down-plunge extensions to high-grade historic mineralisation were also completed, with visible gold observed at a depth of 180.9m.
The eastern lode discovery adds to Bepkong’s near-surface mineralisation of 201,100 ounces measured and indicated; 44,000oz inferred; and 113,000oz proved and probable.
Azumah managing director Stephen Stone said the intersections will combine with historic assays to “substantially increase” the volume of mineralised rock at the deposit and will improve the likelihood of an underground mining development at Wa.
“This drill intercept is further proof that the Wa project has so much more to deliver as it transitions towards development,” he said.
“It is consistent with the structurally-controlled, orogenic-style of mineralisation in the project area, which we know can extend to considerably greater depths than we have been drilling to date.”
Mr Stone said the drill rig has now moved to the nearby Kunche deposit where Azumah will drill two deep holes to follow up recent high-grade intercepts including 44m at 5.37g/t gold from 99m.
Earlier this year, drilling at Kunche returned a gold intersection of 44m grading 5.37g/t gold from 99m, including 1m at 144g/t gold and 20m at 10.27g/t gold.
Azumah’s $4 million exploration drilling campaign is aimed at lifting mineral resources and ore reserves at the Wa project where the primary objective is to deliver a commercially-robust, development-ready scenario by mid-2019.
As much of the project tenure is covered in soil, alluvium or laterite, the company said most of the discoveries to date have been ‘blind’.
The drilling program has been developed by the founders of Azumah’s joint venture partner Ibaera Capital.
Ibaera is sole-funding and managing the project through to a development decision, expected to be handed down next year.
The funding is part of an earn-in and shareholders agreement signed in 2017, whereby Ibaera can initially earn a 42.5% interest in Azumah and the Wa project by spending $15.9 million over two years.
If Azumah elects to not co-contribute pro-rata thereafter, Ibaera may increase its interest to a maximum of 47.5% for a total minimum expenditure of $17m.
The Wa project’s Kunche-Bepkong and Julie deposits share an estimated mineral resource of 2.5 million ounces grading 1.6g/t gold, including 1.6Moz measured and indicated grading 1.8g/t gold.
Extensive metallurgical testwork has confirmed a high average overall gold recovery of more than 92% for the combined deposits.
Mr Stone said he expects mineral resources and estimated recoveries will improve as the company continues to generate and test a large pipeline of targets.
A 2015 feasibility study defined an ore reserve for the entire project of 624,000oz containing 9.1Mt at 2.14g/t gold.
The study is currently being updated and scheduled for completion during 2019.
At midday, shares in Azumah Resources were trading 9.09% higher at $0.024.