OceanaGold Corporation (TSX & ASX: OGC) has reported high grade gold and silver intercepts in its latest round of exploration drilling at its WKP prospect, relatively close to its Martha mine at Waihi in the central North Island.
OceanaGold chief executive Mick Wilkes said in a market update the drill results supported the significance of the exploration programme, which was targeting high grade ore from underground mining.
Wilkes described the latest drilling as “excellent results to date” and said the WKP prospect had the potential to contribute to a further mine life extension of the Waihi operations.
“These drill results, albeit early in the discovery process, are on par with underground targets being reported from drilling at our Martha Project - a world class multi-million ounce high-grade gold deposit,” Wilkes said.
The latest test results ranged from 4.53 grams/tonne gold and 4.2 g/t silver over 9.8 metres, and 58.2 g/t Au and 49 g/t Ag over 1.2m.
Other high grade hits included 24.54 g/t Au and 32 g/t Ag over 8.7m and 7.6m @ 10.84 g/t Au and 12.3 g/t Ag.
OceanaGold's ongoing exploration at WKP includes surface mapping and ground geophysics and a further 7,800m of diamond drilling scheduled for the rest of this year.
The Martha mine may yet get a 10-year life extension boost, with OceanaGold having made the decision to drill underground, around the closed Martha pit. The company and predecessor Newmont Mining have, since 2005, opened and closed the Favona and Trio mines and is now mining its new Correnso decline mine.
Waihi is expected to produce between 75,000 oz and 85,000oz of gold this calendar year.
OceanaGold has begun the consenting process for the Martha underground project, which could be operational by 2020.
Since November last year 6,803m of test drilling had been undertaken at WKP focussing on the potential of the East Graben Vein, one of three major epithermal gold-silver veins.
“Two other significant veins, West and T Stream were also drilled with “encouraging” widths and gold grades intersected in several holes, Wilkes said.
The prospect’s name was abbreviated to WKP from the location’s name of Wharekirauponga, and came into prominence as a large system discovered by the earlier joint venture of Newmont and the since absorbed junior Glass Earth Gold.
A huge low grade system was picked up with a limited number of high-grade feeders within the epithermal system. Newmont began shutting down regional exploration before selling the Waihi operations to OceanaGold, and the cash-strapped had to divest all its Hauraki Goldfield assets.
-additional reporting by Ross Louthean.
*Simon Hartley is senior business reporter and assistant chief reporter for the Otago Daily Times.