MOROBE Province mine operator and explorer Niuminco Group Limited has begun a significant new drilling campaign which it hopes may bring life back to the historic Enterprise Mine.

The Enterprise Mine was developed immediately prior to World War II, however, no production occurred partly due to the Japanese invasion and partly to a flooding incident at the nearby Edie Mine.

However, detailed underground sampling work was undertaken by Government Geologist Norman Fisher in 1940 that identified the potential of the area – where ore was defined by sampling that was never exploited.

There has been sporadic exploration sampling and drilling undertaken in the area since that time – not enough to provide data for a JORC Resource – and Niuminco is now ready to follow up those earlier activities with a shallow drilling program at the Enterprise vein system (Chimney Area) using one of its LongYear 38 diamond core drill rigs and crew.

The programme has been designed to enable the establishment of an initial JORC Resource at the Enterprise vein system and to define potential sources of high grade material to feed an upgraded wet gravity concentrating plant at the rate of 50 to 60 tonnes per day.

png-res-q3-2016_24Niuminco says its immediate target at Enterprise is the shallow exposure at the southeast end of the lode in a Block described as EP-1a where potential for 1000 ounces has been previously calculated. This was based on surface channel sampling over a 60m section, and a 100m section on the Level 1 development drive. The surface sampling involved 30 lines of samples on two metre spaced lines with three samples per line. Each line of three samples comprised a hanging wall selvedge sample, a sample of the lode itself and a footwall sample. The channel samples of lode averaged nine g/t.

Planned Enterprise Drill Holes Summary

The programme, which is scheduled to be completed by late September, early October, comprises drilling a total of approximately 350 to 500 metres in ten angled diamond core drill holes spread over five drill platforms.

Capital raise

Niuminco’s exploration plans are looking to be boosted by a new capital raising which has been supported by leading Australian broking firm Patersons Securities Limited, which has underwritten a Share Purchase Plan (the SPP) up to A$750,000.

Funds raised under the SPP will be largely be used to

  • Procure additional mining and processing infrastructure to increase production rates at the Edie Creek mine; and
  • Fund accelerated exploration activities, in particular high-impact drilling campaigns, by the company at both May River and Bolobip.

Niuminco managing director, Tracey Lake, said the funds raised will help the company lift production at Edie Creek significantly.

Niuminco is using its own rig to drill at Enterprise.

Niuminco is using its own rig to drill at Enterprise.

“We look forward to lifting our ore processing throughput to over 40 tonnes per day and increasing gold production towards our targeted 200 ounces per month at Edie Creek.

“Additionally, we can now accelerate our exploration programmes at Bolobip and May River, and funds raised will be used to drill test these exciting targets,” Mr Lake said.

Edie Creek production

June 2016 saw Edie Creek produce its best month’s gold production (281 ounces) and sales (A$469,190) since recommencing ore processing in February 2014

The company also achieved higher processing levels for the June quarter, averaging approximately 12.1 tonnes per day during the Quarter, through the installation of a crusher and vibrating screen, along with improved operating efficiency of the concentrator plant.

The company is now looking to add further upgrades to help it increase its production to a profitable level.

Niuminco says that at current gold prices and exchange rates the current operating cost break-even production level at Edie Creek is approximately 2350 grams (76 ounces) of gold per month.

In order to be in a position to operate profitably at significantly lower ore grade levels (circa two g/t), orders are currently being placed with a Chinese supplier for a larger ball mill (five t/h capacity), a roller crusher, two vibrating feeders (10t/h) and two two small conveyor belts. The company said this will increase the daily processing capacity to 50 to 60 tonnes in a single shift, and will cost approximately A$40,000.