Just days into a 3000m core drill campaign at targets in the Northern and Central Porphyry areas at Briggs, the first hole returned an assay indicating it was mineralised throughout from the base of cover at 8m until it was terminated at a downhole depth of 449.5m.
This hole, 22BRD0013, testing the Northern Porphyry target, averaged 0.21% copper over the entire length, within which there were multiple higher-grade zones.
This encouraging hole was followed by more visual drilling results from a follow-up hole which Alma says indicates the mineralised porphyry is substantially larger than previously interpreted.
It gets better, as in Alma's quarterly report it notes that initial metallurgical test work on core samples from Briggs indicate excellent potential to produce commercially attractive copper concentrates with high recoveries (92-95%) containing very low impurities.
It is expected that the good initial drill results will add to the inferred resource of 143Mt at 0.29% copper at a 0.2% copper cut-off grade in the Central Porphyry zone of Briggs.
Next up for Alma is to complete drilling of a second hole, 22BRD0014, also targeting the Northern Porphyry area. Drilling will then return to the Central Porphyry to extend the known copper mineralisation.
Alma is in the good hands of managing director Dr Frazer Tabeart, who has a solid track record of copper exploration during 16 years with WMC Resources, followed by international experience elsewhere, including in copper-driven Zambia.
Alongside Tabeart is a strong and experienced board and management team, led by Alasdair Cooke, who is executive chairman, with both Cooke and Tabeart managing public resource companies backed by the Mitchell River Group.
Mitchell River has been involved in successful mining operations and resource companies developed over the past dozen years, including African Energy Resources, Exco Resources, Albidon, Sally Malay Mining (now Panoramic) and Mirabella Nickel.
Tabeart says Briggs has been known about for years but has always been passed over as it was believed that the deposit was too low grade to be developed.
But following work that Alma has done, and what peer explorer Caravel Minerals is doing at a similar style copper deposit near Calingiri in Western Australia, it was found there were many parallels between the nature and scales of the projects. "The grades should not be a deterrent. As long as you have got good metallurgy, good infrastructure, a low strip ratio and a reasonable copper price, there is a strong chance you will make decent money out of the project," Tabeart said.
Tabeart explains that it was out of African Energy Resources that Alma was born.
"We understood the energy business very well and it was quite clear the way things were going that electrification would be paramount and - like them or not - electric vehicles are coming!"
Going for copper increasingly became a no-brainer. "Of course, you can go for popular commodities like lithium or graphite, but copper is the least likely of all those metals to be substituted. It is not one of these commodities which can be flavour of the month today, then completely out of favour in the next quarter.
"We believe copper has very strong fundamentals. Everyone knows that copper is going to be the critical metal of the future if we are going to decarbonise the world and have the future we all want to have.
"Our view is that if you want to develop a robust copper project it needs to be in a stable jurisdiction from a fiscal and security point of view. We have deliberately taken Alma from Africa into Australia, specifically looking for copper, and specifically looking for copper projects which have scale and good infrastructure.
"We have got all of those in a project which has largely flown under the radar but for which all of the metrics we have seen so far - when compared with other similar projects being developed - are as good, if not better.
"There is a high likelihood that this project could get into production in a reasonable time frame in this well-established and mining-friendly jurisdiction," Tabeart said, adding that Briggs ticks all the boxes that Alma had wished for.
"At the moment it is flying under the radar. We have a market cap of $10-12 million. One could project this to be many multiples of that if we could prove up the resource to be much larger - and then confirm positive economics through a feasibility study."
No exploration project is ever easy, but Tabeart says Briggs is somewhat different as the mineralisation is right at surface and responds well to surface geochemical sampling, and therefore no deep-penetrating geophysics is required to define drill targets.
Stripping it down to what's next on the to-do list, as Tabeart says: "You just get on with it: get out there, drill it, put it through a feasibility study and prove, beyond doubt, that we have what we believe we already have."
So, drilling will continue for the first four months of 2023 with a larger programme to be considered if the remaining assays support it, aimed at further resource expansion and setting the scenes for a scoping or prefeasibility study to commence by year-end.
"Then the other major programme we will be kicking off when the wet season stops is our reconnaissance programme for Zambian Copperbelt-style mineralisation that we are seeking at our East Kimberley copper project. There are numerous copper occurrences on our tenements, and they lie exactly where you'd predict using sediment-hosted copper exploration models but no one has systematically explored the region for copper or even drilled a single hole - ever!"
Tabeart says that Alma is in the process of getting its final permits and heritage clearances in place for East Kimberley and planning a comprehensive stream sediment sampling programme. The hope is that this will kick off in March or April, with the expectation that it will last several months.
"We want to get a really good look at the geology and hopefully from the stream sediment assays, we will be able to focus in on the key areas and develop a further work programme for 2023 that will lead to a discovery.
"We like the complementary nature of this high-risk, high-grade copper opportunity in the Kimberley and our largely de-risked, large-scale, low- to moderate-grade copper project near a deep-water port in Queensland."