By Michael Philipps
It was a stellar year for unhedged Aussie gold miners in 2023 – and small-capped toll miner Auric Mining was just one small player to benefit from a gold price that would have been unthinkable a year ago.
The first $4.7 million chapter has now been written in Auric’s short life as a minnow gold miner at its Jeffreys Find leases near Norseman in Western Australia that many others ignored. It has now churned out more than 9700 ounces of gold during two mining campaigns with joint venture (JV) partner BML Ventures.
To date, the project has produced a not insignificant $29.28 million in gold sales for the first stage of the two-year project and Auric’s share is an impressive – and free carried – $4.7m. All of the ore was trucked to and processed at the Greenfields Mill in Coolgardie and stage two of the project is set to kick off soon with a projected conclusion by late this year or early next year.
Notably Auric says it sold one 1264-ounce parcel of gold last year for a record Australian price of $3131 per ounce to the Perth Mint for a gross revenue of nearly $4 million.
Historic high gold prices added a significant kicker to the first year’s final tally at Jeffreys Find, with the JV selling its wares at a glittering average price of $3006 per ounce – well above the expected $2600 an ounce for the stage-one pit and the company believes it will reap at least similar numbers from the second phase.
The first campaign saw 36,180 tonnes processed at a solid head grade of 1.58 grams per tonne gold for 1721 ounces, with a 93.04 per cent gold recovery rate. In the second campaign, 139,685 tonnes were processed at a head grade of 1.93g/t for 8020 gold ounces at a recovery of 92.58 per cent.
‘Stage One of mining has taken six months – not long to generate almost $30 million in gross revenue and $9.5 million in total surplus cash to be split by the partners.’Auric managing director Mark English
Management says planning is well underway for the next phase, with BML working on the parameters for a final pit. Auric says that considering the stage-one pit was premised on the $2600 per ounce, a more expansive approach to mining may be on the cards next year.
The Jeffreys Find deposit boasts a resource of 1.21 million tonnes of ore grading 1.22g/t gold for a total of 47,200 ounces, with an initial mine life of just under two years.
BML, an experienced, Kalgoorlie-based mining contractor, is incurring and paying all costs in relation to mining the gold resource at Jeffreys Find. The two companies then retain an equal share of the net cash surplus after the payment of all mining and processing costs, providing Auric with a substantial cash boost.
Auric Mining managing director Mark English said: “Stage One of mining has taken six months – not long to generate almost $30 million in gross revenue and $9.5 million in total surplus cash to be split by the partners.”
The company was established in 2020 to explore for gold and other deposits in WA’s Widgiemooltha and Norseman areas. It has 640 square kilometres of tenements in four project areas.
Management says revenue from the Jeffreys Find project will allow it to inject millions of dollars into its ongoing development – and more specifically at its 100 per cent-owned Munda gold deposit near Widgiemooltha. While Jeffreys Find has rattled the company’s tin, it rates Munda as its “big game”.
Munda hosts a resource of about 198,700 ounces of gold at a grade of 1.38g/t and is conveniently located about 34km south-west of the mining town of Kambalda. It sits just 3km south-west of Mincor Resources’ Widgiemooltha gold project, which has a mineral resource of 4.3 million tonnes at 2g/t gold for 273,600 ounces.
A recently-released scoping study on Munda outlined a cashflow surplus of $76.9 million under a base-case scenario, using an assumed gold price of $2600 per ounce – well below today’s spot price.
Auric has already launched a grade-control drilling campaign at the deposit and plans to have a starter pit at Munda producing gold as early as this year, before expanding the mine in 2025 and beyond.
Sometimes it is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog – and the comparatively diminutive Jeffreys Find has given Auric some financial bite that should allow it to roll out its bigger plans.
The market also looks like it agrees, with Auric’s share price doubling last year from about 6¢ a share to 12¢ … and with only 130 million shares on issue, any future dividend paid by Auric won’t have to feed too many mouths.
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Source: Thanks smh.com