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Nova expands Estelle gold, finds antimony

Mining Explorers 2023 - January 18, 2024

Looking to push the gold resource on its Estelle property in Alaska above the 10-million-ounce mark, Australia-based Nova Minerals Ltd. launched a 15,000-meter drill program in July targeting the higher-grade gold mineralization in the RPM and Train areas at the southern end of the district-scale property.

In April, the company reported that Estelle had been expanded to 1.1 billion metric tons of global resource averaging 0.3 grams per metric ton (9.9 million oz) gold.

While this is only a marginal increase over a resource estimate completed a year earlier, the company says the more conservative geological modeling used for the current resource better positions Estelle for more detailed studies moving forward.

According to the new calculation, the Korbel Main deposit at the north end of the 198-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 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 deposits about 16 miles (25 kilometers) south of Korbel host another 1.24 million oz of gold in higher-grade material.

The largest of these deposits, RPM North, 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.

About 800 meters southeast, RPM South hosts another 31 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.4 g/t (420,000 oz) gold.

A phase-two scoping study completed based on this resource 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 RPM deposits, 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.

Toward the goal of lifting the mill feed grade, the 2023 drilling focused on upgrading and expanding resources within the RPM area and carrying out inaugural drilling at Train, a highly prospective gold target about 4.5 miles (seven kilometers) north of RPM.

Higher-grade RPM, Train

Nova began its 2023 drill program with drilling on a ridgeline at RPM focused on upgrading and expanding the higher-grade gold zones at both RPM deposits.

In September, Nova Minerals said six of the holes drilled at RPM South cut significant intercepts.

147 meters averaging 0.5 g/t gold in hole RPM-039.

265 meters averaging 0.5 g/t gold in hole RPM-042.

258 meters averaging 5.1 g/t gold in hole RPM-015.

Upon completion of the ridgeline drilling, a rig was moved to the valley to test a second intrusive intersected in the lower part of two 2022 holes– RPM-037 and RPM-025 – that appears to link the RPM North and South at depth. Highlights from these 2022 holes include:

76 meters averaging 1.2 g/t gold from a depth of 440 meters in hole RPM-025.

103 meters averaging 1 g/t gold from a depth of 325 meters in hole RPM-037.

79 meters averaging 1 g/t gold from a depth of 471 meters in hole RPM-037.

Following its drilling at RPM, Nova carried out discovery drilling at Train.

"We are excited to be putting the first holes into our never before drill tested Train prospect where surface gold occurrences collected over several years by geologists have indicated that another large IRGS (intrusive related gold system) gold structure, similar to the high-grade structure at RPM, may be hosted," said Nova Minerals CEO Christopher Gerteisen.

Highlights from surface samples collected from the Train and adjacent Shoeshine targets include 80.2 g/t, 30.4 g/t, 24.5 g/t, 21.6 g/t, and 17.9 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.

Samples with grades as high as 30.4 g/t and 21.6 g/t gold have been collected between Train and Trumpet.

The 2023 drilling at Train focused on establishing a third major gold resource area on the Estelle property.

Antimony discovery

In addition to expanding the Estelle resource to above 10 million oz, Nova investigated the properties critical mineral potential. This work culminated in the discovery of two antimony prospects – Stibium and Styx.

Stibium, which lies about six miles (10 kilometers) southeast of Korbel on a new block of claims acquired by Nova in 2023, was discovered due to a color anomaly found there. A reconnaissance survey identified a two-meter-thick massive sulfide vein with elevated gold, stibnite (antimony mineral), and silver.

The best surface sample collected from Stibium contained 12.7 g/t gold, 2.1% antimony, and 1,600 g/t silver.

Styx was identified by a similar color anomaly in the southern portions of the Estelle property about 4.5 miles (seven kilometers) west of Train.

The two best samples collected from Styx contained 1.2 g/t gold and 19% antimony, and 0.9 g/t gold and 21.7% antimony.

"While Nova's primary focus continues to be on the gold, the discovery of high-grade stibnite, a primary ore source for antimony, associated with the gold system emerging at Estelle, represents a significant development for the company as antimony is listed as a critical and strategic mineral to US economic and national security interests by the US Department of Interior," said Gerteisen.

While both antimony discoveries warrant follow-up exploration, Styx is a top priority for Nova due to the extent of the color anomaly that extends down slope towards the Styx River valley and numerous other prospects identified in the immediate area.

"Our steady boots on the ground approach will continue to unlock the potential of this remarkable land package as evidenced by these two new discoveries at Stibium and Styx," said Nova Minerals Head of Exploration Hans Hoffman.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Author photo

Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


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