Nova ramps up 2023 Estelle exploration
15,000-meter drill program to focus on higher-grade RPM gold North of 60 Mining News – May 19, 2023
Last updated 6/1/2023 at 11:47am
Nova Minerals Ltd. May 16 announced that crews and equipment have been mobilized to Estelle for a planned 15,000-meter drill program that will primarily target the higher-grade gold identified in the RPM and Train areas of the property.
In April, the company reported that Estelle hosts 1.1 billion metric tons of global resource averaging 0.3 grams per metric ton (9.9 million ounces) gold.
According to the new calculation, the Korbel Main deposit at the north end of the 125-square-mile property hosts 320 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 0.3 g/t (3.09 million oz) gold and 480 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.2 g/t (3.55 million oz) gold.
The new Cathedral deposit about 1,500 meters southwest of Korbel Main hosts an additional 240 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.3 g/t (2.01 million oz) of gold.
The RPM North deposit, which lies about 16 miles (25 kilometers) south of Korbel, hosts 4.7 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 2.3 g/t (340,000 oz) gold and 26 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.6 g/t (480,000 oz) gold.
The new RPM South deposit about 800 meters southeast of RPM North hosts 31 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.4 g/t (420,000 oz) gold.
A phase-two scoping study completed after the resource calculation envisions a mine at Estelle that would produce 2.25 million oz of gold over 17 years of mining, or about 132,000 oz of gold annually.
The operation outlined in the scoping-level study would begin with mining the higher-grade resources at RPM, which would result in stronger production during the early years of the operation, including 363,000 oz of gold in year one.
Adding additional higher-grade gold to the resource would further boost annual gold production and the economic metrics for the operation.
"With the completion of the Phase 2 Scoping Study, which was a major milestone for the company and provided some clear goals going forward particularly in relation to increasing the LOM (life-of-mine) mill feed grade and optimizing the process flowsheet, we are excited to be ramping up the activity on site as we prepare for our upcoming 2023 drill program," said Nova Minerals CEO Christopher Gerteisen.
RPM, Train, and Stoney
Toward the goal of lifting the mill feed grade, most of the 2023 drilling will be focused on upgrading and expanding resources within the RPM area.
This will include infill and step-out drilling targeting higher-grade gold mineralization at both RPM North and RPM South, as well as testing a 600-meter, high-priority target area linking the two deposits.
In December, Nova reported that deeper drilling encountered a much larger mineralized intrusive at RPM North, and structural data from oriented core indicates a geological connection to RPM South.
This deeper structure was encountered in the lower parts of RPM-037, which cut 98 meters averaging 1.7 g/t gold from a depth of 41 meters, 103 meters averaging 1 g/t gold from a depth of 325 meters, and 79 meters averaging 1 g/t gold from 471 meters.
The two lower sections intersected what appears to be a link between RPM North and RPM South.
The remainder of the 2023 drill program will target Train, a highly prospective area about 4.5 miles (seven kilometers) north of RPM with similar mineralization.
Train and the adjacent Shoeshine were known prospects when Nova acquired the Estelle property. In 2021, the company collected surface samples at these targets with grades of 30.4 g/t, 24.5 g/t, 21.6 g/t, 7.5 g/t, 5.7 g/t, and 5.4 g/t gold.
Similar high grades were returned from Train in 2022 – 80.2 g/t, 17.9 g/t, 17.7 g/t, 16.6 g/t, and 10.4 g/t gold.
The Nova exploration team also collected high-grade gold samples from the Trumpet discovery, which lies about a mile (1.5 kilometers) north of Train. Highlights from the 2022 sampling at Trumpet include 32.8 g/t, 16.6 g/t, 16.0 g/t, 13.6 g/t, and 12.7 g/t gold.
Nova says geological observations indicate the strong potential that Shoeshine, Train, and Trumpet represent a large gold system within the RPM Complex, an area at the southern end of Estelle that would be centered around a mill to process RPM ore.
In addition to drilling, geologists will also carry out an exploration mapping and sampling program at Estelle this year. This work will primarily focus on RPM and Train areas, but will also include exploration at Stoney, a roughly 3,000-meter-long gold-silver-copper prospect about midway between RPM and Korbel.