Pilbara explorer Millennium Minerals (ASX: MOY) has identified visible gold grading up to 79.96 grams per tonne (g/t) at its Bartons underground deposit, while discovering high grade gold at the Redbeard prospect, both within the company’s 100%-owned Nullagine gold project in Western Australia.
Better results from drilling at the Bartons underground deposit were 10.5 metres (m) grading 38.64g/t gold, including 5m grading 79.96g/t and 6m grading 7.72g/t gold including a 1m intercept grading 38.80g/t gold.
Millennium chief executive officer Peter Cash said the results placed the company in a “strong position” to deliver its objective of developing an underground operation at Bartons.
Drilling at Bartons underground is part of a feasibility study to boost mine life at Nullagine an extra five years by developing an underground gold operation. Once fully operational, Millennium anticipates production at Nullagine will increase to about 100,000 ounces per annum (ozpa).
Results from the Bartons underground feasibility study are due by the end of the year, with Millennium planning to begin underground development during the March 2018 quarter.
The company is currently producing about 80,000ozpa gold from its open pit mines at Nullagine, which have a resource estimate of 1.3 million ounces of contained gold.
Redbeard gold discovery
Meanwhile, the shallow Redbeard discovery returned 8m grading 8.44g/t gold, including 7m grading 9.32g/t gold, and 10m grading 5.79g/t gold including 5m grading 9.09g/t gold.
Millennium is undertaking further drilling at Redbeard to better-determine the extent of its discovery.
“These latest results are a major boost to our growth initiatives, delivering a new greenfields gold discovery at Redbeard and providing strong support for our plants to establish our first underground mining operation at Bartons early next year,” Mr Cash said.
Pilbara gold rush
Due to the Nullagine project’s proximity to conglomerate gold discoveries in the region, Millennium is also exploring for this style of mineralisation across its tenements.
In recent months, the Pilbara region has been the site of a gold rush, with several explorers reporting hundreds of gold nugget discoveries, part of a conglomerate-style mineralisation, across their landholding.
Investors have focussed on the region due to the mineralisation’s similarity to the Witwatersrand deposit in South Africa. Witwatersrand is the world’s largest known gold deposit and has produced 1.5 billion ounces, with more to come.