International Goldfields (ASX: IGS) certainly lives up to its name. With gold-focused exploration assets across three continents, IGS’s affinity for emerging global mining districts is apparent. With the merger with US-based Santa Fe Gold Corporation, IGS becomes part of an entity that is a gold and silver producer and developer as well as explorer and acquires a measured and indicated resource base of 1.07Moz Au, 7.4Moz Ag and 18.4 kilotonnes Cu across three US deposits.
IGS’s merger with Santa Fe leaves it well placed for the future. The entity that emerges from the combination of the two companies will have an initial market capitalisation of approximately US$70 million, cash reserves in the order of US$10 million and gold and silver production of 28,000oz per annum.
The merger brings together “two highly experienced and complementary management teams with successful records in exploration and development,” which will each be supplemented with the “complementary expertise” of the partner company, says IGS chief executive officer Travis Schwertfeger.
As it combines the exploratory assets held by IGS with Santa Fe’s portfolio of low-cost mining and exploration assets in New Mexico – according to the company statements made at the time of the merger’s announcement – the resultant anticipated low production costs are expected to enable the new entity to rival major producers worldwide.
Chief among IGS’s most promising exploration assets is the recently discovered Ana Prospect, a prospect targeting multi-million-ounce potential with extensive areas of workings in Brazil’s Juruena Belt.
IGS owns 93 per cent of the subsidiary that owns the Brazilian project, an area of 2,976km2 comprised of 33 exploration licences in the highly mineralised but under-explored Alta Floresta Mineral Province located on the Juruena Belt. The vast Latin Gold Project is located in an area of historical artisanal mining and hosts multiple Au-Cu prospects, of which Ana is one.
The RC (reverse circulation) assay results from the recently completed drilling program at the Ana prospect are especially encouraging, demonstrating significant gold mineralisation. Some of the most notable samples from the recently discovered high-grade gold mineralised veins associated with gold-copper mineralised structures include 4m at 2.28g/t from 44m drill depth; 4m at 4.06g/t from 100m; 4m at 6.96g/t from 84m drill depth. Schwertfeger is upbeat about the potential for a JORC-compliant resource on the prospect, citing the intersection of the anomalous copper and base metals as providing a wealth of evidence for potential bulk-tonnage targets.
The portion of the Juruena Belt on which the prospect sits is in an area perceived, until recently, to be quite wild and remote. In fact, modern-day exploration of the area began in only the last decade. Even now, alluvial mining by the Garimpeiros (artisanal miners) is significant, “with new areas continually being opened and small underground workings scattered throughout the Alta Floresa Mineral province,” says Schwertfeger.
Estimates place gold production from Garimpeiro activities in the area at more than 5Moz for the period of 1980 to 1999 alone; a number all the more impressive as the Garimpo workings only commenced in the wake of the infrastructural development of the area in the 1970s, put in place by the government to promote the settlement and economic development of the region.
Schwertfeger calls the prospect “well located,” allowing that there are no million-ounce finds in the area, but attributing that to the region’s fundamentally underexplored nature. Certainly, IGS have high expectations of the prospect, with a maiden resource expected in the first quarter of the new year.
Another of IGS’s most notable projects is The Nanglasso Project in Mali, 462km2 comprised of three licences that is host to an extensive gold anomaly that recent sampling in the Sotian permit area extended to a length of 10km.
In the recent maiden drill program, the prospect returned encouraging gold assay results (including 1m of 7.8g/t and 3m of 7.84g/t). The location is notable for other reasons – namely proximity to the 7.9Moz Syama mine.
Mali is one of Africa’s most noteworthy gold producers, already host to several major gold deposits, despite modern exploration being in its infancy in the region – a state of affairs that leaves much of the Birimian gold belt underexplored. A recent flurry of exploration in Southern Mali has turned up much of West Africa’s most significant discoveries in the last five years, including a resource of more than 1Moz at Komana and, encouragingly, the 1.2Moz Au resource at Nampala, which lies along strike of the Nanglasso Project.
One reason for IGS’s certainty of the site’s good prospectivity is the sampling carried out on large termite mounds, where the size of the termitaria indicate that termite excavations extend to the water table, raising material from deep in the earth.
Certainly, Mali is one of West Africa’s leading gold producing nations, and more pertinently for the toiling explorer, welcomes the tapping of its national resources. Schwertfeger, informed by his background of working in West Africa, terms Mali a “mining aware country”.