Under the direction of executive chairman Brian Hall, Great Western Mining Corporation PLC (LON:GWMO) has “refocused” its strategy.
Shelved (but not forgotten) is its interest in copper. Instead, the group is concentrating on gold and silver exploration and production in the aptly named Mineral County, Nevada.
Crucially, there’s cash in the bank to achieve these ambitions. And judging by the share price, which has more than doubled in the last six months, the wider investing public appears to have bought into the new streamlined approach.
“We’ve gone back to concentrate on gold which is great because the gold price is high,” says Hall.
“We’ve also looked at what we could do to get a get a bit of revenue through a business that has been spending money for the last the last 14 years or so.”
Cash flows will come from re-processing spoil heaps from a cluster of historic mines on Great Western’s Mineral Jackpot area.
First gold, probably of doré bar proportions, is expected before the end of the year.
It is considering the construction of a crushing and gravity separation plant as a possible next step.
The optimal solution for maximising gold recovery will be a leaching facility which requires strict environmental approvals and while this is being worked on, gravity separation will be the likely route to get commercial output going.
At this stage, the economics around the spoil heap production are moot with recoveries, average grade and the daily production rate unknown.
For the uninitiated, the area of Nevada in which Great Western is operating has been prolific for gold and silver.
Its 14,900 acres-worth of concessions all lie within the Walker Lane trend, which has yielded significant discoveries such as Comstock Lode, Yerington, Pumpkin Hollow and Isabella Pearl.
Because of the mountainous terrain, there are large tracts of land under licence to the company that are unexplored that could be appraised using modern techniques.
Hall and the team have set themselves an exploration target of 500,000-1.5mln gold equivalent ounces from multiple prospects.
Historic geological reports have identified seven lodes, prospective for gold and silver on Mineral Jackpot, where previous exploration work has uncovered grades of up to 95.6 grams per tonne of the yellow metal.
It also has the Rock House (RH) gold-silver targets, where early exploration work has identified three new, unexplored mineralised zones.
Going for Olympic gold
And then there’s the Olympic Gold Project, over which Great Western has a four-year option to purchase.
The area was host to a now-disused mine that was “prolific with some good gold grades”, explains Hall.
The plan is to try to find a vein extension to the former mine, which crossed a fault line that Great Western’s geologists think dislocated the precious metal mineralisation. This is one of eight targets in the new area.
Olympic and RH will be drilled in 2021. “We should be able to do those next summer,” says Hall. “Mineral Jackpot requires a different rig and the road to be finished.”
With around £2mln in the bank, the group has more than enough to fulfil its ambitions next year.
M1 and M4 lead to copper
And, of course, there’s copper play – the M2 and M4 projects and the M1 and M8 targets in Nevada.
One would have thought they’d have been a slam dunk for further exploration work in this period of sustained demand for the red metal.
“The copper opportunity was always going to be long-term. And, crucially, I didn’t think we could develop it on our own,” says Hall.
By their nature, copper discoveries require large investment (and a significant resource estimate) before they attract the investment from companies with the financial wherewithal to develop them.
Gold exploration a better use of resources
Great Western hasn’t written off the asset but has instead set up a data room for companies interested in developing them.
“I’d be thrilled if someone came to us, but it’s not a priority,” says Hall.
“I believe trying to find precious metals is a much better way to spend our time and our shareholders’ money. I thought that from the very start; when I was a non-executive director and first went to Nevada in 2014.
“Now I am running the company I hope to put it into practice.”