Nova Minerals Ltd. announced on May 15 that drilling at its Estelle gold property in Alaska has begun with a goal of drilling up to 50,000 metres this year.
Nova says this year’s programme is the most important for the company so far, with drills focused on expanding and upgrading both the Korbel and RPM deposits in preparation for a phase-two scoping study later this year and a prefeasibility study in 2023.
“This is yet another transformative year for Nova, and we are excited to be resuming drilling to further unlock the Estelle Gold Trend, with the goal of adding additional tonnage to the already large resource, particularly in the higher Indicated category from both the RPM and Korbel Main deposits, for inclusion in the critical upcoming Phase 2 Scoping Study,” said Nova Minerals CEO Christopher Gerteisen.
Nova’s phase-one scoping study, released in February, gave a first look at establishing an operation at Estelle that would mine 195 million metric tonnes of ore averaging 0.41 grammes per metric tonne from the Korbel Main deposit.
This “snapshot in time” study is based on 286 million metric tonnes of Australian Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant indicated resources averaging 0.3 g/t (3 million oz) gold in the Korbel Main deposit, as well as 583 million metric tonnes of inferred resources averaging 0.3 g/t (5.1 million oz) gold.
The mine outlined in the scoping study is expected to generate a pre-tax net present value (5 percent discount) of US$381 million and an internal rate of return of 20.4 percent at a gold price of US$1,750/oz.
While this indicates an economically viable mine, further upgrades to the large inferred resource at Korbel and the inclusion of ore from RPM, a higher-grade deposit about 16 miles to the south, are expected to benefit the operation outlined in the next scoping study.
“We anticipate that including the high-grade RPM feed ore through the proposed Korbel Central Processing Plant, with minimal additional capital expenditure required because the current proposed plant has the flexibility to receive feed from ore sorter grade control and multiple ore sources,” said Gerteisen.
This year’s drilling will begin with infill holes aimed at upgrading Korbel Main’s resources.
Meanwhile, crews are preparing pads for the 2022 drilling at RPM.
RPM North has 23.1 million metric tonnes of JORC-compliant inferred resource averaging 2 g/t (1.5 million oz) gold, according to one hole drilled in 2012 and six completed by Nova last year.
The company announced earlier this year that it would drill at least 20,000 metres to upgrade and expand the RPM deposit.
RPM-005, a 2021 hole that cut 400 metres of 3.5 g/t gold from surface, including a 132-meter subsection averaging 10.1 g/t gold from 89 metres, is expected to kick off this drilling.
According to Nova, regional geophysics has discovered a magnetic anomaly that confirms the continuity of the mineralized intrusive contact zone discovered by the highest-grade zone in hole RPM-005 and which extends for 1,000 metres along strike. Fans of holes from drill pads along this trend, as well as holes at RPM South, about 750 metres southeast of RPM North, are expected to be drilled this year.