Precious metals investor Eric Sprott has taken up to a 20% stake in Benchmark through a C$4 million investment, as part of a $7.5 million (US$5.7 million) raising which closed last week priced at 40c per flow-through share and 30c per unit.
Benchmark said the funding meant it was fully funded for 2019 operations and a 25,000m drill programme in 2020, as it targets 5 million ounces gold-equivalent at Lawyers.
"Each zone shows significant potential to develop a mineral resource that includes high-grade and bulk-tonnage intersections that begin at surface," chairman and CEO John Williamson said yesterday.
"Our geologists have also defined new discovery zones across the 127 km2 package that will be drill tested in 2020."
The first result from 2019 drilling at the Phoenix zone last week included 0.9m at 132.5g/t gold and 8,560g/t silver from 131m.
Benchmark said although Phoenix was part of the Lawyers trend, its mineralisation appeared "unique" to the styles typically noted at Dukes Ridge and Cliff Creek.
The past-producing project has a 2018 resource comprising an inferred 88,000 ounces of gold and 4Moz of silver from the Cliff Creek North and Dukes Ridge zones.
Sprott now holds about 14.7% of Benchmark's shares, which could increase to 20.5% on a non-diluted basis assuming the exercise of warrants.
However Benchmark said there were provisions in the warrants issued to his investment company limiting the exercise to less than 20% of the issued and outstanding shares of the company on a non-diluted basis at all times.
Benchmark shares have risen from C16c in November to 45.5c last week.
They last traded at 38c, capitalising it at $34.5 million (US$26 million).