BULLION HUNT

Un­der the guid­ing force of gold bull Eric Sprott, Kirk­land Lake Gold is start­ing to ce­ment its po­si­tion as one of the lead­ing back­ers of un­der­de­vel­oped WA gold projects.

The Australian Mining Review - - FRONT PAGE - CAMERON DRUMMOND

CHAIRED by renowned bil­lion­aire gold in­vestor Eric Sprott, Kirk­land Lake Gold emerged as a global mid-tier miner af­ter ac­quir­ing New­mar­ket Gold in Novem­ber 2016 for $US764 mil­lion and amass­ing stakes in other prospec­tive Cana­dian and Aus­tralian as­sets.

The com­pany owns and op­er­ates five un­der­ground gold mines, in­clud­ing the Ma­cassa, Holt and Tay­lor mines in On­tario, Canada; the Foster­ville mine in Vic­to­ria and the Cosmo mine in North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Mr Sprott owns 10.3 per cent of Kirk­land, and has been a guid­ing hand in the com­pany’s Aus­tralian strat­egy.

This has in­cluded the de­vel­op­ment of Foster­ville gold mine near Bendigo, Vic­to­ria, and op­por­tunis­ti­cally boost­ing stakes in gold ex­plor­ers based in the WA Pil­bara – the lo­ca­tion of Aus­tralia’s new­est gold rush.

The for­mer Mer­rill Lynch in­vest­ment banker – a self-pro­claimed “gold bull” – said he had a “long term view” of Kirk­land and may ac­quire ad­di­tional shares ei­ther on the open mar­ket or through pri­vate ac­qui­si­tions.

The Pil­bara: Aus­tralia’s new­est gold prov­ince?

Hype around the Pil­bara’s high grade ex­plo­ration re­sults did not gone un­no­ticed by Kirk­land.

In Septem­ber last year the miner paid $56m to boost its stake in fel­low Cana­dian miner Novo Re­sources to 17 per cent; the lat­ter hav­ing farmed-in to ASX-listed Artemis Re­sources four months ear­lier as part of a $2m ex­plo­ration joint ven­ture (JV) in the WA Pil­bara.

Artemis had kicked off the so-called ‘Pil­bara gold rush’ early last year when it un­cov­ered highly prospec­tive gold min­er­al­i­sa­tion at its Purdy’s Re­ward de­posit.

In Septem­ber, neigh­bour­ing ex­plorer De Grey Min­ing re­ceived a $5m in­vest­ment from Kirk­land af­ter it found sim­i­lar gold nuggets at its Loudens Patch de­posit.

De Grey chair­man Si­mon Lill de­scribed Kirk­land’s in­vest­ment as a “game changer” for the com­pany.

“To­gether with our re­cent Au­gust cap­i­tal rais­ing of $3m, we have now raised $8m, which con­firms fund­ing for our ex­plo­ration pro­grams through un­til the end of 2018,” he said.

In­de­pen­dent of Kirk­land, Mr Sprott is also lift­ing his ex­po­sure to WA gold through his in­vest­ment arm Sprott Cap­i­tal In­vest­ments.

In Oc­to­ber he made a $5m in­vest­ment into lithium-turned-gold ex­plorer Kairos Min­er­als.

Kairos’ key as­sets are its Mt York Lithium-gold project 90km south­east of Port Hed­land and Roe Hills gold project east of Kal­go­or­lie.

Kairos ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Terry Top­ping said the back­ing by Sprott Cap­i­tal In­vest­ments was a “wa­ter­shed” mo­ment for the com­pany’s fo­cus in the Pil­bara.

“We are de­lighted to wel­come Eric Sprott as a cornerstone share­holder and par­tic­i­pant in this piv­otal cap­i­tal rais­ing, which puts Kairos in an ex­cep­tion­ally strong po­si­tion to pur­sue ag­gres­sive ex­plo­ration pro­grams across our key projects,” Mr Top­ping said.

Speak­ing to WestBusi­ness at Novem­ber’s Precious Me­tals In­vest­ment Sym­po­sium in Mel­bourne, Mr Sprott said he be­lieved the re­gion could host a gold re­source of the same scale as Wit­wa­ter­srand, from which more than a third of the world’s gold has been mined.

“We know con­glom­er­ate rock ex­ists over a wide area of the Pil­bara and we’ve dis­cov­ered gold nuggets un­like any other nuggets in the world,” he said.

“We now need drilling and as­says to test the grade and thick­ness of the min­er­al­i­sa­tion.

“It’s not yet con­clu­sive but it’s look­ing good.”

“We’ve dis­cov­ered gold nuggets un­like any other nuggets in the world.”

Im­age: Sup­plied.

Im­age: Sprott Money Inc.

Gold bull Eric Sprott has a keen in­ter­est in Aus­tralia’s prospec­tive gold projects.

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