An extended drilling program at Bowen Coking Coal’s (ASX: BCB) Isaac River project in central Queensland has successfully intersected exploration targets at six sites within the prospective Leichardt, Girrah and Vermont Upper coal seams.
The company’s maiden drilling program was extended to include a sixth core hole following the intersection of a 4.5m thick coal seam at 139m depth and a second 5m thick intersection at 217m, interpreted to be a repeat intersection of the Leichhardt seam.
All core samples have been sent to Bowen’s laboratory for coal quality analysis.
The assays will be used to finalise the scope of the Isaac River project and fast-track it through the development and permitting processes towards a decision to mine.
Leichardt is the main target seam at Isaac River, which is located in the Bowen Basin along strike from BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Daunia mine and south of Peabody Energy’s Gundyer project.
Leichardt has been extensively mined over the years, and the Leichardt Lower seam has been previously intersected in seven historic drill holes within the tenement ranging from 2.4-5m thick, modelled from around 25m deep.
Vermont’s seams – which are typically found up to 30m below Leichardt – remain untested by Bowen but have been regionally mined for their good coking properties.
Both Leichhardt and Vermont are part of the Rangal coal measures and are being exploited at neighbouring operations to produce high-quality metallurgical coal for the export market.
The Girrah seam has been regarded as a lower-quality coal seam due its high inherent ash and lower yield, however the thickness and good coking properties found in some plies within the seam have been viewed as an opportunity which Bowen said it intends to further explore.
Isaac River’s maiden coal resource estimate of 5.3 million tonnes was released in November.
It includes only the Leichhardt seam and comprises indicated resources of 4.2Mt (open cut) and inferred resources of 1.1Mt (underground).
Managing Director Gerhard Redelinghuys said the latest drilling results have been a positive step towards mine planning and a revised resource statement.
“The geophysical logs for the intersections at Isaac River look really encouraging, but we will have to wait for the outcome of coal quality tests before we decide whether or not to include it in the scope for the fast-tracked mine plan,” he said.
“We are also keen to investigate the potential of the lower-quality Vermont Lower and Girrah seams as potential blend coal, particularly given the thick 13m and 23m intersections found at Girrah.”
Although the tenement is small in size, Mr Redelinghuys said the strategic location and shallow coal found at Isaac River had created “significant interest” from potential partners, developers and producers.
At mid-morning, shares in Bowen were down 4% to $0.024.