Dark Horse has significant landholdings in some of Argentina's best regional addresses for large, high-grade epithermal gold, and brine and spodumene lithium discoveries.
Mason says the company is aiming to move key gold projects - principally Las Openas and Cachi - into the discovery spotlight in 2020 after strong encouragement from limited surface examination of historically under-explored areas. Both are seen as potential multi-million-ounce targets given widespread evidence of outcropping gold-silver vein systems and results from rock-chip sampling and trenching, and for Las Openas, early stage RC drilling, programmes.
Dark Horse reported earlier this year results such as 3m grading 4.75 grams per tonne gold and 54.9gpt silver from 101m depth, and 1m of 4.84gpt gold and 349gpt silver from 23m, from 17 RC holes completed on three near-surface epithermal vein and vein-breccia targets at Las Openas in San Juan province.
Rock chip samples from the main Presagio vein-breccia system mapped over a strike length of 3.7km, in a corridor up to 200m wide, have returned up to 54.2gpt gold and 3,112gpt silver, while visible gold and silver sulfosalts were logged in the Presagio West area.
Cachi in another mining-friendly province, Santa Cruz, has also produced high-grade gold and silver results from limited rock-chip sampling, while magnetic surveys show important similarities between the undrilled Cachi Caldera and the 2.6Moz gold-equivalent (so far) Cerro Moro Caldera to the east.
"We are aspiring to discover multi-million ounce deposits at each of our gold projects, Las Openas and Cachi, though Cachi could be much bigger because it has many targets and prospects"
More than 28Moz Au-eq has been outlined at seven mines by the likes of AngloGold Ashanti, Extorre Resources/Yamana Gold and Andean Resources in the past 15 years in the Deseado Massif epithermal gold province around Cachi, which Dark Horse has sights on drilling soon.
Mason, who along with Dark Horse chairman Nick Mather, director Jason Beckton, and chief development officer Boyd White, has had a lot of experience developing significant projects in different parts of the world, and building companies, says one or more large-scale finds could easily propel Dark Horse along the same track as other juniors that have seen their market values grow from $10 million to $500 million and $1 billion or more on the back of discoveries in Argentina and elsewhere.
Dark Horse is part of the Australia-based DGR Group that spawned Mather-led SolGold, one of the world's standout copper-gold juniors with its world-class discoveries in Ecuador.
Neil Stuart, who acquired Cerro Negro from MIM and vended it into Andean before it became a multi-million-oz gold deposit and US$3.4 billion Goldcorp acquisition, assisted with sourcing the gold projects for Dark Horse and was a director up until his recent retirement, now an advisor. He remains a large individual shareholder. Stuart was also a founder and director of ASX-listed Orocobre, a leading Argentina lithium carbonate producer, and was integral to Dark Horse putting together one of the industry's best ground packages for a junior.
"We are aspiring to discover multi-million ounce deposits at each of our gold projects, Las Openas and Cachi, though Cachi could be much bigger because it has many targets and prospects," Mason says.
"We have retained several Australian and Argentine geoscientists who worked at the time for Extorre Resources on the Cerro Moro 2.6Moz gold deposit to the east of Cachi in the same geological region. We have discovered a historic volcanic caldera feature at Cachi, which at its margins hosts the main high-grade gold prospects, as was the case at Cerro Moro.
"We are focusing on our gold projects now but will bring our attractive lithium projects along when prudent.
"My commitment and mandate as CEO of Dark Horse is to take the company into that $300-500 million market value space in the medium term - say, three years - and then target $1 billion market value, creating significant wealth for our shareholders and stakeholders.
"We have people in the organisation who have achieved this in the minerals industry.
"We have the projects, and the will and patience, to do so."
Dark Horse is in the process of raising equity funding to advance its exploration in Argentina over the next 12 months. The company also has about A$10 million worth of Lake Oil shares, with the Australian gas explorer expecting to spud a new well in South Australia in the next two months. Dark Horse has said it could use proceeds from the sale of part of its 30.4% Lake Oil stake to supplement its own fundraising efforts.
It is also working on a shares-for-drilling option with a local contractor in Argentina as part of initial efforts to demonstrate the value of the two main properties so it can advance smartly to early resource definition at the sites.
Mason says Dark Horse aims to spend about A$500,000 at both Cachi and Las Openas to generate the sort of drill intercepts that would clearly underline their resource-generative credentials.
Based on similar programmes and outcomes in the same regional geology, Dark Horse could spend A$2.5 million in total on 6,500m of drilling in about 60 holes to outline JORC resources for each of Cachi and Las Openas. Precise numbers are obviously hard to predict at this stage.
But Mason says the broad objectives for next year are straightforward enough.
"We expect it will take most of 2020 to take each project to JORC status, assuming we can move through the standard inferred, inferred-plus-indicated, and then inferred-indicated-measured marks.
"We are currently deciding whether to commence Las Openas first, or Cachi. Each are significant projects in their own right. We are leaning towards Cachi because of drilling permits, access and logistics, as well as the potential resource size."
Dark Horse also has an option on 36,600 hectares of the San Francisco salt lake basin in the Catamarca province's Lithium Triangle, where elevated lithium concentrations are expected up in a 7,000-hectare nucleus of the San Jorge brine project. The company's shareholding in Pampa Litio SA gives it exposure to the Central Argentine lithium spodumene project and its advanced El Totoral exploration target where drilling permits are awaited.
Mason says Dark Horse also continues to evaluate other project opportunities.
Country manager Marcelo Sanchez is a veteran of Argentina's mining and engineering sectors and previously worked as project manager for Orocobre on the world-class Olaroz lithium brine and carbonate operation. He was also business development manager at Borax.
Mining Journal has reported that mining companies have been generally positive about Argentina's latest national election result and the pro-mining agenda of the incoming government.
Mason says the gold development track record of provinces such as Santa Cruz and San Juan over the past 10-15 years augers well for future growth.
"Lease holding costs in the country are low, royalties are attractive at 3%, and Argentine corporate tax is 30% reducing to 25% from the beginning of 2020," he says.
"Dark Horse's relationships at all levels of community and government are strong, including with any indigenous peoples, which is a major tenant of our corporate philosophy and experience in our senior executives having worked overseas in similar jurisdictions through their careers."
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