Australia is the second largest producer of gold worldwide, according to the US Geological Survey, and Western Australia (WA) is the dominant player in the nation’s gold market accounting for nearly 70 percent of the total production. Gold mining is the third-largest commodity sector by value in WA, producing nearly 6.9 Moz (or 214 tonnes) in 2022 valued at A$17.8 billion. Eleven of the world’s biggest gold mines are in WA, where Spartan Resources is advancing its flagship Dalgaranga Gold Property.
Formerly known as Gascoyne Resources, Spartan Resources (ASX:SPR) is engaged in the exploration, evaluation and development of gold projects. The company is currently undergoing a pivotal transformation, underpinned by the exceptional high-grade Never Never gold discovery in 2022, less than 1 kilometre from its less-than-5-year-old, existing 2.5-Mtpa carbon-in-leach processing facility in care and maintenance, and the lower grade open pits at Dalgaranga.
Drilling at Never Never has led to the discovery of 721 koz at an average grade of 5.85 g/t gold. Driven by the potential for further resource upgrade, Spartan secured $50 million in funding in February 2023 to support its aggressive exploration program at Never Never. This program, which is intended to last 18 months, is targeting: more than 300 koz reserve at a grade exceeding 4.0 g/t gold; more than 600 koz resource at a grade exceeding 5.0 g/t gold; and the development of a 5-year mine plan capable of generating 130 to 150 koz of gold per annum.
The Dalgaranga property is in proximity to multiple gold-producing projects including Ramelius Resources’ Mt Magnet Project, Musgrave Cue Project, and Westgold Resources’ Tuckabianna gold mill. Historically, Mt Magnet has produced over 6 million ounces since discovery in 1891, which increases confidence in the resource potential of Dalgaranga.
In parallel with the company’s planned exploration program at Never Never, Spartan is progressing with permitting and evaluation of its 244-koz Yalgoo Gold Project, which is expected to provide an important source of ore feed to supplement the high-grade ore from Never Never. In addition, the company owns the 537-koz Glenburgh and Mt Egerton Gold Project in the Gascoyne region, which has the potential to become a second production hub for Spartan Resources.
Spartan Resources Limited is an Australia-based company engaged in the exploration, evaluation and development of gold projects. The company was formerly known as Gascoyne Resources but changed its name to Spartan Resources Limited (Spartan) in August 2023 after a series of incredible discovery drill holes and exploration success that justified the transformation of the business.Spartan is currently focused on the newly discovered high-grade Never Never gold deposit, part of its 100-percent-owned Dalgaranga Gold Project (Dalgaranga) in Western Australia. The Never Never discovery was made in mid-2022 and is less than 1 kilometre from the existing 2.5-Mtpa carbon-in-leach processing facility and the main open pit at Dalgaranga. The Dalgaranga Process Plant is less than five years old and is well suited to the new discovery and existing lower grade ore deposits. Spartan’s Dalgaranga gold project is located 475 kilometres northeast of Perth and approximately 65 kilometres west of the 6-Moz high-grade Mt Magnet gold camp in the Murchison Region of Western Australia.In November 2022, the company, then Gascoyne, suspended mining and milling operations of the former focus of its operations, the lower grade circa 0.8-1.0g/t Gilbey’s open pit to focus on the recently discovered high-grade Never Never gold deposit. The strategy has thus far paid off extremely well with drilling, defining a growing high-grade mineral resource of 3.8 Mt @ 5.85 g/t gold for 721,200 oz. The Never Never gold resource, when added to the existing lower-grade Dalgaranga Gold project mineral resources brings the total resource to 16.7 Mt at 2.2 g/t gold for 1.18 Moz. Keep in mind the discovery and establishment of the high-grade Never Never deposit has more than doubled the grade of the previous Mineral Resource Estimate on which the infrastructure was built.Spartan also has three other gold projects, the Yalgoo Gold Project, which is 110 kilometres west of, and two others roughly 500 kilometres further north of Dalgaranga, the Glenburgh and Egerton Gold Projects. With all resources combined, the global mineral resource estimate for Spartan currently stands at 38.51 Mt at 1.6 g/t gold for 1.96 Moz of contained gold.Looking to the immediate future, the potential for further growth within the Spartan portfolio is extensive. The current 32,000-metre drilling program at Dalgaranga is already underway with the aim to extend the existing Never Never resource at depth, as well as identify new look-alike targets along strike to the north and south, such as the newly identified higher-grade Four Pillars and West Winds shoots, and follow up of the Patient Wolf high-grade target 1.6 kilometres north of the Never Never discovery. The next resource update will summarise the efforts of the current drill campaign across multiple targets and is scheduled very shortly in Q4 2023.Spartan raised $50 million in February 2023 to underpin an 18-month exploration and strategic plan (the “365” strategy) aiming to develop a five-year mine plan with the goal of generating 130 to 150 koz of gold per annum. This strategy appears well on track with the resource target, the “600” already achieved with work underway on the “300” reserves and establishing the minimum “5-yr” mine life currently.An additional $25 million was raised in November 2023 to accelerate Spartan’s high-grade growth strategy and support an expanded exploration campaign at Dalgaranga in 2024.Also in February 2023, the company established an exploration target of 4 to 5 Mt @ 4.6-6.2 g/t for 600 koz to 1 Moz gold at the Never Never Gold Deposit. With a current resource of 3.8 Mt @ 5.85 g/t for 721 koz gold and an imminent resource update due, Spartan has delivered on what it said, and looks solid to continue to do so.
Spartan Resources’ flagship Dalgaranga Gold Project is located 475 kilometres northeast of Perth and approximately 65 kilometres northwest of Mt Magnet in Western Australia. The Dalgaranga Project includes a fully developed operation comprising a fully established gold mine, a 2.5 Mtpa carbon-in-leach processing facility, modern camp accommodation, and an airstrip.
The Dalgaranga mine produced 71,153 oz in FY 2022 before being placed on care and maintenance in November 2022 to facilitate the implementation of a new strategic and restructuring plan. The new plan is focused on the high-grade Never Never gold deposit discovered in 2022, less than 1 kilometre from the existing 2.5 Mtpa processing facility.
Never Never Gold Deposit is located within the Dalgaranga property immediately to the north of Gilbey’s open pit and within 1 kilometre of the process plant. Never Never is much higher grade than any of the previously defined ore bodies at Dalgaranga and appears to be far more structural, fold and/or shear-hosted as opposed to the more stratigraphic/shale-associated historically defined Gilbey’s series of gold deposits.
The strategy to focus on high-grade Never Never has thus far paid off with drilling defining a mineral resource of 721 koz gold contained within 3.83 Mt at 5.85 g/t. The Never Never gold resource when added to the Dalgaranga Gold project mineral resources brings the total resource to 16.7 Mt at 2.2 g/t gold for 1.18 Moz.
In light of the success of the drilling program, Spartan has expanded its current drill program to 32,000 metres with up to six rigs operating on-site (previously, 25,000 metres with four rigs). The expanded program looks to target extensions of known mineralization, further upgrading the high-grade 721,200 oz mineral resource estimate (MRE) for the Never Never Gold Deposit. The company ultimately aims to deliver a new mine plan to feed the 2.5 Mtpa processing plant for at least five years. The target for the five-year mine plan is to deliver gold production of 130 to 150 koz per annum.
Some of the more significant assay results under the current drill program include:
Drill-hole DGRC1305-DT registered the deepest ever gold intercept 576 metres down-hole at Never Never. While the assay results for the hole are yet to be published, this discovery is significant as it demonstrates that the deposit remains open at depth.Drill-hole DGRC1283-DT returned 18.56 metres at 6.71 g/t gold from 495 metres, including a high-grade mineralized zone of 2.56 metres at 32.19 g/t gold.Drill-hole DGRC1276-DT returned 7 metres at 34.34 g/t gold from 372 metres, including high-grade mineralized zones of 1 metre at 95.90 g/t gold and 2.5 metres at 49.50 g/t gold.Drill-hole DGRC1271-DT returned 3.2 metres at 7.95 g/t gold from 310.3 metres, including a high-grade mineralized zone of 1 metre at 12.29 g/t gold.Drill-hole DGDH039, targeting the West Winds area, intersected 20.52 metres at 2.38 g/t gold from 420.48 metres, including a high-grade zone of 5 metres at 6.22 g/t gold.Drill-hole DGRC1245, targeting the Arc gold prospect, intersected 4 metres at 8.33 g/t gold from 106 metres including high-grade zone of 1 metre at 30.66 g/t gold.
Notably, in October 2023 Spartan announced a new gold discovery, Patient Wolf, located immediately to the north of Never Never which returned a massive 10 metres at 19.84 g/t gold, including a high-grade zone of 4 metres at 40.15 g/t gold. This new site is located 1,600 metres north of Never Never and 1.9 kilometres from the processing plant.
The company will now accelerate planned resource diamond drilling across multiple high-grade targets, including Never Never, Four Pillars, and West Winds along with a dedicated RC rig at the new Patient Wolf prospect. The ultimate aim is to deliver the scheduled resource update for the project in Q4 2023, which will grow Spartan’s high-grade resource inventory within a 2-kilometre radius of the 2.5-Mtpa Dalgaranga process plant.
Spartan is well-funded to support its drilling programme and develop its five-year mine plan, having secured a $50 million funding package in February 2023, which included a $26.3-million equity raising, a $21.3-million investment from highly respected global resources private equity fund Tembo Capital, and a $2.5-million unsecured loan from existing major shareholder, Delphi.
Yalgoo Gold Project
The Yalgoo Gold Project is located 110 kilometres by road from the Dalgaranga Gold Project and comprises two deposits, namely the Melville deposit and the Applecross deposit, which is adjacent to the northern end of the Melville deposit. The Yalgoo Gold Project hosts a mineral resource of 243,600 oz contained within 5.2 Mt at 1.4 g/t gold. Exploration activity at this project has slowed down with the Never Never deposit at Dalgaranga taking priority as the next source of higher-grade ore.
Glenburgh Gold Project
The Glenburgh Gold Project (Glenburgh, spread over an area of 2,000 square kilometres, is located in the southern Gascoyne region of Western Australia. Glenburgh has a JORC 2012 mineral resource estimate of 16.3 Mt at 1.0 g/t for 510,100 ounces of gold.
Mt Egerton Gold Project
Mt Egerton Gold Project is spread over an area of 200 square kilometres and is located in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. Two known deposits exist at Mt Egerton – Hibernian and Gaffney’s Find – both located within granted mining leases. Mt Egerton hosts a current resource of 27,000 oz of contained gold, with strong growth potential.
Simon Lawson – Managing Director
Simon Lawson is a professional geoscientist with more than 16 years of operational experience spanning multiple commodities and jurisdictions. He was one of the founders of Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) and under his leadership transformed the company from a small Western Australian gold miner into a multi-billion dollar global gold mining heavyweight. He has also worked with Firefly Resources Ltd., Superior Gold (TSXV:VSGD) in various senior leadership roles. Lawson brings considerable operational management and technical experience to the board of Spartan and has set in place a firm strategy to take Spartan forward through consistent production, improved cash flows, commercial dealings, and near-term production-focused resource/reserve growth.
Rowan Johnston – Non-Executive Chairman
Rowan Johnston is a mining engineer (graduating from the West Australian School of Mines) with significant experience as an executive and non-executive director. He is currently interim non-executive chairman of Wiluna Mining Corporation, non-executive director of Kin Mining NL, and has previously been managing director of Excelsior Gold. Johnston has worked and studied in the mining (primarily gold) industry for 40 years throughout Australia and overseas and has experience working for owners, consultants, and contractors. He has worked through several feasibility studies, start-ups, construction, and production.
Hansjoerg Plaggemars – Non-Executive Director
Hansjoerg Plaggemars is a seasoned professional with experience in structured debt finance, and equity capital markets including capital increases and decreases, restructurings and insolvencies. He has worked as CFO in various industries including software, retail, prefabricated housing and e-commerce. Since 2017, he has set-up his own consultancy firm, Value Consult. Plaggermars currently sits on a number of boards as a non-executive director or supervisory member. He holds a degree in business administration from the University of Bamberg.
David Coyne – Non-Executive Director
David Coyne has over 30 years of experience in the mining, engineering and construction industries, both within Australia and internationally. Prior to joining Spartan, Coyne held senior executive positions with Australia-listed companies Macmahon Holdings, VDM Group, Peninsula Energy, and with unlisted global manganese miner Consolidated Minerals. He has previously served on the boards of listed companies such as Peninsula Energy and BC Iron.
John Hodder – Non-Executive Director
John Hodder is a geologist by background with a B.Sc. in geological sciences and a B.Com. in finance and commerce from the University of Queensland. He also has a master’s in finance from London Business School. He has served as a director of a number of junior mining companies and has significant experience of operating and investing in Africa. He also worked at Suncorp and Solaris as a fund manager focusing on the resource sector managing an index-linked natural resource portfolio of A$1.25 billion.
Tejal Magan – Chief Financial Officer
Tejal Magan is a chartered accountant with over 10 years of experience in the mining, oil and gas, and construction industries, within Australian and internationally listed companies. She has been at Spartan Resources since December 2018. Previously, she worked with Austal, a shipbuilding company, where she held the role of financial controller for the Australian business unit. Before joining Austal, she worked at Cliffs Natural Resources, a global mining company, where she held various roles including accounting and reporting controller, corporate controller, and senior corporate accountant.
This article was written in collaboration with Couloir Capital Ltd.