Australia’s Paydirt Regional Roundup – Altan Nevada secures major partner

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Teck America – a subsidiary of Teck Resources Ltd – has entered into a JV with Altan Nevada Minerals Ltd over the North Star gold project in Nevada. The deal is being hailed by TSX-listed junior Altan Nevada as proof of the compelling nature of the project.

Teck – one of North America’s largest diversified miners – can earn a 70% interest in North Star, situated on the Carlin Trend in northern Nevada, by spending $5 million in exploration on the project. The project is 55km north-north-west and along strike of the 50 moz Goldstrike mine, owned by Barrick Gold Corp.

Altan Nevada chief executive Evan Jones said Teck’s entry was a glowing endorsement of the project’s prospectivity.

“Altan Nevada has been working on this deal for a while,” Jones said. “It has been a very challenging period for junior companies and so we are delighted to bring in a company of Teck’s calibre.”

Altan Nevada has been exploring the project since 2011 with mapping and sampling campaigns followed up by an IP survey. In 2012 the company excavated two exploration trenches, encountering intercepts of 3m @ 1.06 g/t gold within wider gold-bearing zones of up to 63m wide. The trenches also returned anomalous arsenic, antimony and thallium readings, confirming the presence of Carlin-type alteration and mineralisation.

With permitting already approved by the Nevada Mines Department, Jones said drilling at North Star was expected to start towards the middle of 2014. The two companies will work together to finalise drill targets in the intervening period.
Jones said without such a deal, Altan Nevada would have been unable to undertake any drilling in 2014.

“In this climate there are three options for a junior; undertake a placement that dilutes existing shareholders massively; sit on the project or try to encourage a partner to come in, that is what we have done.

“In this market, it is difficult to see a junior company carrying out a large work programme. And to do it within striking distance of some the US’s largest deposits is also a bonus.”

Nevada’s gold production is dominated by industry heavyweights Barrick and Newmont Mining Corp but Jones believes there are plenty of opportunities for smaller players in the Carlin district.

“Nevada produces nearly as much gold annually as Australia from a much smaller area and at the same time Altan Rio considers it to be relatively under-explored. It is home of Barrick and Newmont although most majors predominantly focus on brownfield targets. We were able to stake seven of our eight projects some of which are adjacent to existing mines. That is difficult to do in Australia, I believe there is a real opportunity for good, grassroots exploration in Nevada.”

Altan Nevada has a further seven projects in the State and Jones said the company was trying to conjure up similar JV agreements for those. The company’s holdings in Nevada currently total more than 15,000ha. Projects include two potential district-scale extensions to the north Carlin Gold Trend, three Yerington District copper-gold targets and three large-scale gold alteration systems along the Walker Lane lineament in central Nevada.

“Altan Nevada is not a one project company, a lot of potential remains in the portfolio. We have developed and permitted drill targets on at least five of our projects.

“We will wait to see how the market plays out in the first quarter but we are actively seeking partners for our other projects. If market conditions change we would like to step up generative work and mobilise a drill rig ourselves although not in the current environment.”

Under the terms of the North Star JV Teck can earn an initial 55% interest by spending $2.5 million over four years with a further $2.5 million securing it the full 70% interest. Teck is obligated to spend $400,000 by the end of 2014.

– Dominic Piper

Article courtesy of Australia’s Paydirt. If you would like to subscribe to Australia’s Paydirt please visit www.paydirt.com.au/subscriptions