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Junior explorers not idle after assistance plea

WHILE Australia’s mineral explorers presented a host of recommendations to the Federal Government last month, formally seeking assistance to boost flagging activity, WA’s junior explorers are not sitting on their hands waiting for a response.

Judging by June quarter reports, there is still plenty of grassroots activity by WA companies.

Gold explorer Midas Resources is celebrating six months since listing, having reported encouraging results from reverse circulation and aircore drilling of two prospects within its Lake Carey project.

Led by managing director Rhod Grivas and chairman Don Boyer, Midas is pushing ahead this quarter with resource drilling ahead of a preliminary feasibility study for one prospect, and continued exploration with its Connors Range project.

Mount Gibson Iron is much more advanced in its plans to become a producer, but has had to change some plans because of factors out of its control, including the appreciation of the Australian dollar.

Mount Gibson says it has delayed mining on its Tallering Peak hematite project because of a blowout in the completion date for the deepening of the Geraldton Port.

However, when mining commences, it intends to produce around 333,000 tonnes of iron ore in the first three months.

The company is hoping to complete Geraldton Port storage facilities by November and says it is on track to ship its first ore early next year.

Gunson Resources reports being on track to complete a bankable feasibility study for its Coburn mineral sands project early next year.

Despite De Beers pulling out of the Shell Lakes diamond and nickel venture in June, Gunson says it remains convinced of the potential of the diamond component of project.

Gunson also says the nickel sulphide targets are in territory with similar geology to that of Norilsk’s holdings in Russia, and a favourable farm-out is possible to one or more major nickel producers.

Another of Gunson’s large partners, BHP Billiton, withdrew from the Mount Gunson copper project earlier this year, and Consolidated Minerals has now decided to terminate a manganese exploration agreement for this project.

This project has now been reduced in terms of tenement size by 20 per cent.

Undeterred, Gunson has applied for six exploration licences to form a new project, a gold-copper project in the Tennant Creek area of the Northern Territory.

Nickel, gold and platinum explorer Fox Resources is continuing a mining development study for its West Pilbara Radio Hill nickel sulphide project, after acquiring a plant and under-ground operation there almost a year ago.

European bank Société Générale has bought into Fox to assist with the study and the purchase of a mill to double the capacity of the plant.

Meanwhile, Fox has sold off its interest in some Cue gold leases, has had discussions with potential joint venture partners for its other gold and base metal holdings, and awaits an exploration licence to explore 28 gold leases near Tom Price.

Haddington Resources, which is already producing tantalite from its Bald Hill project, is continuing exploration there, and also at its Wallace gold venture near Cloncurry in Queensland.

The company has also reported that another tantalite prospect, near Roebourne, has nickel sulphide and base metals potential.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Tim Shanahan said the Federal Government recognised the sustainability of the mining industry was at risk.

He called on the Government to view the Mineral Exploration Action Agenda recommendations as an opportunity to build a strong future for the industry responsible for $40 billion in annual exports and almost 250,000 jobs.

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