RESOURCEStocks: First of all, White Rock recently raised significant capital for the upcoming summer drilling in Alaska, and other corporate development. What did the raising say about the market appetite for the company's dual development focus and one stream of it in particular?
Matt Gill: Our recent capital raising comprised a placement to raise A$1.6 million and a rights issue to existing shareholders to raise a further A$3.6 million. Our placement was 100% over-subscribed, and our shareholders subscribed for A$2 million in the rights Issue. I think that speaks volumes in terms of interest in what White Rock is planning to do this year - get on the ground this field season and explore at our 100%-owned globally significant zinc VMS project in Alaska.
RS: How are you now positioned to carry out the - it must be said - significant volume of work planned for Red Mountain in the coming exploration season?
MG: We have been working hard behind the scenes to get ready for the upcoming extensive exploration program. We are planning a targeted diamond drilling program aimed at in-fill and expansion of the high-grade maiden resource, on-ground orientation EM and possibly geochemistry exploration across the two already identified deposits, regional application of the best geophysics and geochemistry exploration tools determined from the on-ground orientation work, and a follow-up diamond drilling program on the best of the more than 30 already identified exploration targets.
We have appointed locally-based geological consultants NAI to be our project manager, and we have awarded many contracts - a drill rig is already on site, as is the camp, and we have awarded contracts for support functions such as helicopter and fuel deliveries. We have identified our geophysics consultants and our geochem consultants also. Our camp is at an airstrip, just 100km south of the major town of Fairbanks, across low lands, so we see this as an advantage in Alaska, where infrastructure can be an issue.
RS: You've said the camp and diamond drill rig mobilisation at Red Mountain has been done, with drilling due to start in about a month, depending on weather. The initial focus is infill/extensional drilling on Dry Creek and West Tundra Flats, where you have reported a resource of 9.1 million tonnes grading 12.9% zinc-equivalent within the overall maiden resource of 16.7Mt at 8.9% Zn-eq. Can you just expand on the drilling focus, in terms of planned metres, depth and the specific areas to be targeted first/why?
MG: We plan to conduct in-fill and extension drilling to add to the known JORC Resource at the two deposits at Dry Creek and West Tundra Flats. We intend to allocate around half of the planned metres to this drilling (10-15 holes). The depth of holes will range from shallow (less than 100m as the deposits do outcrop on surface) to some deeper holes also (about 250m). While this drilling is occurring, the field teams will be conducting their geophysics, and geochem and mapping work, such that halfway through the program, we will relocate the drill rig to test the best two-to-five identified more regional targets. VMS mineralised systems come in camps - "clusters" - and our program is aimed at building on the known JORC resource as well as assisting to demonstrate that we might have such a VMS camp at our Red Mountain project.
RS: White Rock is going to spend two-thirds of the money raised on drilling at Red Mountain. You've also got geochem and geophysics surveys planned. Does that work have a purely regional focus, to fine-tune drilling targets among the 30 or so already identified? What is the aim there?
MG: Yes. A key part of the field program is the application of modern-day ground geophysics techniques for the first time on this project, particularly a range of surface and down-hole electrical techniques (EM, CSAMT, IP) to assist in identifying the best method(s) and then possible targets for subsequent drill holes to test for high-grade massive sulphide mineralisation both as extensions to the known deposits at Dry Creek and West Tundra Flats, but also and importantly on some of the 30 already identified exploration targets developed from historic shallow EM and historic surface geochemistry.
RS: How many of these targets do you hope to drill this summer given the focus on the resource drill-out and sheer volume of options in view, in the form of visible conductors from previous shallow EM work, at the moment?
MG: We would hope to conduct confirmation surface geochemistry (XRF) on the top five-to-10 prospects, conduct new ground geophysics surveys on the top two-to-five prospects, and drill maybe four-to-eight holes also.
RS: What is providing the encouragement to explore the Red Mountain system for VMS-related gold?
MG: We obtained the Alaskan Government's pre-competitive geochem and geophysics data on the area and provided this information to a world-renowned VMS expert in Dr Jim Franklin. He opined that gold mineralisation is usually found at the top (hanging wall) of VMS base metal deposits or adjacent in the overlying sediments. Gold-bearing host rocks are commonly not enriched in base metals and consequently often missed during early exploration sampling. This we believe provides us with an exciting opportunity for potential further discoveries at Red Mountain.
The pre-existing data was also given to Condor Consulting. These experts opinions, combined with the work done in the 1990s by Grayd Resources, including a 127 drill-hole database, and the subsequent maiden JORC resource done by RPM (previously known as Runge), immediately placed the Red Mountain zinc project as one of the highest grade and more significant deposits of any zinc company listed on the ASX and an important VMS asset within a global context.
RS: Any significant developments on the people/expertise front, in terms of appointments to the technical team and/or engagement of external parties?
MG: White Rock has an experienced exploration manager and we have engaged the services of locally-based NAI Consultants as our on-the-ground project managers. Under their guidance and use of sub-contractors, we believe we have an experienced and effective team ready to execute our exploration program for 2018.