PolarX Strongly Backed by Gold Major

Australian junior enjoys strong support for its USA project portfolio.

PolarX Strongly Backed by Gold Major

Advanced ASX-listed mineral explorer and developer PolarX (ASX: PXX) can point to rapidly growing high-grade copper, gold and silver projects in tier one US jurisdictions, Alaska and Nevada. The junior enjoys strong support from Australian gold major, Northern Star Resources.

Executive chairman Mark Bojanjac described PolarX's Alaska copper-gold projects, Caribou Dome and Zackly, as the company's "low hanging fruit".

The addition of the Humboldt Range gold-silver project in Nevada serves to move the company into ‘maximum uplift territory'. It means that even when the Alaskan winter demands exploration tools must be downed, PolarX can shift its focus south to keep the news flowing.

Enhanced economics

Greater certainty about future economics was achieved for the Alaska Range project from studies showing critical mass could be achieved by combining Zackly and Caribou Dome. These also confirmed that a sole processing plant could be used to handle the different future ore types.

Remodeling the resource to include PolarX's recent drilling saw its size increase by 2.6 times Laboratory work also led to significantly enhanced metallurgical recoveries. As Bojanjac described it, "What we found was that even just a small increment in metallurgical recoveries and concentrate grades could double its economic returns."

An updated January 2024 scoping study has served to supercharge the projected economic returns for Alaska Range. It puts the projected pre-tax net present value (NPV) at A$625 million over 9.5 years, with capital payback of A$226 million in fewer than 18 months. The combined Zackly/Caribou Dome project is set to generate A$10M/mth of net cash flow over the life of mine and shows a 74%internal rate of return.

These robust and alluring statistics at Alaska Range are driven, in part, by its very high-grade copper. This is especially the case at Caribou Dome where the resource modelled from surface down to 300m averages 3.1% copper and includes 4-5% copper at surface. Identified mineralisation below the current resource to a depth of 450m is set to be further investigated over the coming months. This provides scope to extend the modelled mine life and even further enhance projected economic returns.

The ASX-listed junior's backers look at these numbers and see the same cause for excitement PolarX sees. The takeaway for investors is that Caribou Dome and Zackly offer immediate tangible upside.

Caribou dome masive sulphides with slumping
Caribou dome masive sulphides with slumping

Expert backing

That these developments have not yet translated to the share price is something PolarX managing director, Dr Jason Berton reasons is due in part to the market continuing to overlook base metals for lithium or rare earths.

Despite this, recognition of PolarX's potential is not lacking from major shareholders. These include Ruffer Gold Fund and Northern Star Resources, the latter a global-scale Australian gold producer with a A$16.5 billion market capitalisation. Run by fellow Australians with engineering as well as corporate pedigree, Northern Star Resources has Alaskan operational credibility via its Pogo gold producing mine, and has just backed PolarX in no uncertain terms by underwriting a A$5 million raising.

Necessity would appear to be the mother of invention, and a closer position between the two companies could be on the cards as Bojanjac and Berton seek to circumvent the current ASX malaise to secure direct funding to move things forward commercially. As the executive chairman put it, "Our assets are becoming large enough to make a difference to an outfit of [Northern Star Resources'] size and could be a very profitable satellite operation for some sort of combined ownership scenario in the future."

Management pedigree

As to pertinent proven pedigree, Bojanjac has been part of or has led several start-up operations in locations such as China, Mongolia and Ghana that resulted in producing mines. He was also a founding director of a public company that discovered one of Australia's highest grade gold mines at East-Kundana, Western Australia.

Berton comes from a structural geological background, and brings to PolarX almost two decades of mining, exploration and private equity investment experience. Having previously been focused on copper and gold exploration in Chile, he was attracted by the sovereign risk-free quality of the Alaska and Nevada jurisdictions.

Nevada project

In parallel with Alaska Range, PolarX envisages big things for its Humboldt Range Project, which it acquired in 2021, extended and at which it conducted the first comprehensive soil sampling programme in almost a century.

The project currently comprises 364 lode mining claims in Nevada in two claim groups: Black Canyon and Fourth of July, and is situated between two large-scale active mines: the Florida Canyon gold mine and the Rochester silver-gold mine. It is easily accessible, historically mined and in a jurisdiction regularly voted first for investment attractiveness by the Fraser Institute.

The state of Nevada is responsible for over 75%of US total annual gold production and, significantly, Humboldt Range is situated in close proximity to the famed Carlin Trend where much of that gold is mined. With soil samples and Induced Polarisation surveys pointing to what Jason Berton describes as "really big targets", it is small wonder PolarX's major shareholders support the expansion of the company's project portfolio in this manner.

2024 priorities

For now, with Alaska's summer around the corner, the focus will be to further increase copper recoveries above 90%, and to prioritise deeper drilling to increase the size of the Caribou Dome resource. In concert, PolarX will be structuring itself with a view to partnering with an incumbent in the region.

The rationale behind this objective includes enhanced purchasing power for key materials, as well as ready access to critical spares, vehicle fleets and an established team with the requisite skill sets. In being able to avail itself of systems already in place, PolarX would be well positioned to accelerate down the pathway to development.

Aside from advancing partnership discussions, the managing director's immediate wish list – which he is confident will be granted given the company's exploration work to date – includes a further significant increase in the NPV and further improved recoveries on the metallurgical front.

And, for Bojanjac and Berton, the pitch to investors is clear: here is a junior with some unusually valuable assets, more than one company maker in its portfolio, and consistent and significant backing from a major gold miner with intimate knowledge of the region in which PolarX is active.

PolarX Limited



  • Mark Bojanjac
  • Frazer Tabeart
  • Jason Berton
  • Robert Boaz


  • 1.6 billion

MARKET CAP (at March 6, 2024):

  • A$20 million


  • Ruffer Gold Fund 10.8%
  • Northern Star Resources 10%
  • US Global 6.2%
  • Lundin Mining 3.6%
  • Management/directors 2.3%

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