“At this stage, given our large and prospective tenement holding, our JV with Sandfire and our small but experienced management team, we are confident that we offer investors one of the best chances for discovery success in the Bryah Basin.”
Auris Minerals has a new management team that is using new technology to review old data, allowing for geological re-interpretation across previously underexplored areas targeting significant new exploration potential in five project areas. Can you provide a brief company history to contextualize this strategy?
Auris was founded almost 20 years ago, and we have been aggressive explorers in the Bryah Basin in Western Australia. Prospective for both gold and copper, the Bryah Basin is a proven volcanic massive sulphide (VMS) province hosting a number of historic and existing deposits and mining operations, including Sandfire’s De Grussa and Monty, high grade copper deposits, Westgold's Fortnum and Peak Hill Gold mines and Horseshoe Metals Horshoe Lights copper-gold project. We intend to leverage our extensive land holding via a clearly defined exploration program designed to deliver the maximum value to the portfolio.
Within the Byrah Basin, we have a strategic land holding of 1320 sq km in some of the more prospective areas of the Basin. In February 2018 Sandfire Resources – a leading Australian copper producer, paid Auris $1.5 million for the right to farm into the Morck Well East and Doolgunna prospects. As of March 2019, they have since spent $9.4 million exploring these tenements and remain encouraged by results for the project area to host massive sulphide mineralization.
The Forrest Project is our most advanced project and includes Wodger and Forrest prospects. All areas have recorded significant drill results including 9 m at 5.8% Cu, 24 m at 3% Cu, 15 m at 3.36% Cu and 33 m at 1.25% Cu. Mineralization zones recently extended with the latest reverse circulation (RC) and diamond drilling (DD) programs, and both prospects remain open down plunge. Additional drilling is required at both Forrest and Wodger to further evaluate their respective northerly and northwesterly plunges to copper mineralization to depth.
Cashman, Feather cap and Horseshoe projects are underexplored, representing real opportunity for the company going forward.
What has been your key strategy in trying to understand the geology of your land holding?
The Bryah Basin is challenging in that it is difficult to understand its geology and structure; if it were easy more deposits would have been discovered. In terms of the Morck Well East project, Sandfire is currently systematically drilling the project using air core, RC and DD programs along with ground EM and DHEM where appropriate. In so doing, they have gathered significant geological data and have a greater understanding of the geology and structure, and they remain encouraged by the findings. We on the other hand have limited financial resources and are concentrating exploration on the highly prospective targets and areas. A key asset to our exploration success is our new exploration team consisting of Matthew Svensson (Exploration Manager) who has worked in the Basin previously and our consulting geologist, Dr. Margaret Hawke, who is credited with the discovery of the Sandfire DeGrussa deposit in 2009. She has carried out extensive work on the Bryah Basin, including her recently published PhD on the area.
Despite growing demand for copper due to the burgeoning electric vehicle market and gold exploration investment dollars reaching a 30-year high in 2018, junior exploration companies have struggled to access investment dollars. Why has this been the case?
It has been challenging, as there is always a flight to quality in tough markets. This impacts the whole mining ecosystem because the majors in many cases look to cost-efficient juniors to carry out the exploration and will readily pay a premium to acquire any new discoveries. Exploration is high risk; however any discovery is well rewarded – just look at the success of Mr Creasy and more recently the Monty discovery for Talisman.
What are Auris’ key objectives moving forward from a financial and geological perspective?
Our focus will remain on discovery by actively exploring our project areas in the Bryah Basin. We are a lean operation and remain well funded with approximately $2 million in cash. We are in the process of reviewing our exploration budget and will look to spend resources on some of the highly prospective underexplored areas. We may look to JV some of our holdings to enable us to concentrate greater amount of our cash resources on new targets generated by using new geological techniques and interpretation of old data on these areas.
We are also hopeful the knowledge and resources that our JV partner is throwing at the Morck Well East project will result in success. The mandate from our Board is to continue to spend dollars in the ground exploring. Our near-term value driver is our management team, which has vast experience – especially in the Bryah Basin.
How would you like Auris to be perceived by the mining community?
Auris is a company singularly focused on making the next discovery in the Bryah Basin. At this stage, given our large and prospective tenement holding, our JV with Sandfire and our small but experienced management team, we are confident that we offer investors one of the best chances for discovery success in the Bryah Basin.