Austria-focused explorer High Grade Metals (ASX: HGM) has kicked off a maiden exploration drilling campaign at its flagship Leogang copper-cobalt project in the country’s west.
High Grade managing director Torey Marshall told Small Caps the program will focus on the historic high-grade Nockelberg mine, which was a source of cobalt ore for artisanal mining stretching back over 400 years.
The initial campaign will comprise nine diamond holes to be drilled from three drill pad locations. This plan is expected to cut down on drill rig movements and minimise the amount of time taken between holes.
The holes are intended to “fan” down through areas of historically high-grade material, which have been supported by geochemical and geophysical data acquired by High Grade throughout this year.
The full program is forecast to be completed in four to six weeks, depending on mechanical performance and general geological conditions.
High Grade has engaged Canadian drilling contractor Energold to provide three rigs to progressively drill both the Leogang project and further south-east at its Schellgaden gold project before the end of November.
Mr Marshall said that the third rig, which will focus on Schellgaden, is expected to arrive in the country “in the coming weeks”.
High Grade’s business strategy is underpinned by a two-year exploration and development program planned across its acreage portfolio, which comprises nine brownfield projects in Austria prospective for gold and base metals.
The gold projects are all located in the south-central region of the country and include Schellgaden North, Schellgaden South, Goldeck-Sifilitz, Kreuzeck East-Lengholz and Kreuzeck West-Rabant.
The company’s other four projects – Gratlspitz, Leogang, Seekar and Zinkwand – lie in western and central Austria and are prospective for cobalt, copper and nickel.
Leogang copper-cobalt project
The Leogang project covers one of Austria’s oldest and most famous mining localities, Schwarzelo Valley, were mining activities were first documented in the early 1400s.
Throughout history, nickel and cobalt were mined at Leogang, along with copper and silver.
High Grade’s immediate focus at this project is the Nockelberg prospect, which covers the area containing the historic Nockelberg mine.
Schellgaden gold project
The contiguous Schellgaden projects (North and South) cover over 126sq km in a region of central Austria where gold mining dates back to pre-Roman times.
According to High Grade, the region is considered as one of the richest and most active gold mining districts in the country.
The company had planned to drill test an exploration target in the North area in mid-August, however this program was pushed back as Energold advised that the fit-for-purpose man portable rig was under repair and there were delays in receiving parts.
As a result, High Grade revised its schedule and chose to start drilling at Leogang first, moving a trailer mounted rig to that location.
Mr Marshall said the company would provide further updates to the market as drilling progresses over the next eight weeks.