Pacific Bauxite was recently pleased to announce it has completed the acquisition of the South West New Georgia Bauxite Project (previously known as the Noro Project) in the Solomon Islands.
The Company received final approval from the Solomon Islands Government’s Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (“MMERE”) for Prospecting Licence PL04/17, which covers the South West New Georgia Project area (“Prospecting Licence”).
The Prospecting Licence is granted for an initial period of three years and can be extended for two years upon application. A further extension of two years may be applied for, totaling seven years.
The Company believes SW New Georgia is prospective for large tonnage direct shipping ore (“DSO”) bauxite mineralisation, which appears analogous with deposits in the Nendo and Rennell Islands, both within the Solomon Islands (Figure 1). This style of mineralisation provides the opportunity for quick, cost-effective resource definition and a simple, low cost, dig-load-ship style mining operation.
The project is adjacent to commercial port facilities offering significant infrastructure advantages for any future export mining operations. The Noro Port can accommodate Handymax and Supermax bulk cargo ships and is subject to an infrastructure upgrade program in the near term. The project is well serviced by daily domestic flights from Honiara to Munda Airport, which is currently being upgraded to accommodate international flights. Access within the project appears good with extensive logging tracks crisscrossing the Prospecting Licence.
The granting of the Prospecting Licence follows an extensive Awareness Program, conducted by Pacific Bauxite and involving all stakeholders including traditional landowners, local communities and Provincial Government representatives. The Company received overwhelming widespread local support for its proposed prospecting activities, and the local government granted the Company a Business Licence to operate in the Western Province. All relevant communities have executed Surface Access Agreements with Pacific Bauxite to allow for the immediate commencement of prospecting over the entire license area.
The Prospecting Licence was granted to Australian Pacific Bauxite Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of AU Capital Mining Pty Ltd, a joint venture between Pacific Bauxite (50% ownership and management) and private Australian entities.
Sampling Program Results
Pacific Bauxite recently announced the results of its reconnaissance sampling program at SWNG, which resulted in the discovery of three large distinct high grade targets, each returning peak results of between 55% and 57% Al2O3 .
The reconnaissance sampling program was designed to provide an initial test for the early identification of areas favourable for DSO quality bauxite, with grade ranges of +40% total Al2O3 and less than 10% total SiO2. Sampling within the Project area was completed using hand-augers and hand-dug test pits, causing minimal environmental disturbance.
The program included 199 hand-auger drill holes and 40 shallow test-pits, for a total of 239 samples. Hand-held XRF results have been completed for all samples, with 130 (54%) samples returning results of more than 40% Al2O3 (alumina).
The Company is currently undertaking work to extend the defined areas of bauxite mineralisation, and secure equipment for resource definition drilling at the priory targets. Additional prospecting will commence in the next few weeks, and resource-definition-drilling is expected to commence in October.
The Company believes SWNG is prospective for large tonnage direct shipping ore (“DSO”) bauxite mineralisation, and is analogous with the bauxite deposits of the Nendo and Rennell Islands, both within the Solomon Islands. This style of mineralisation provides the opportunity for quick, cost-effective resource definition and a simple, low cost, dig-load-ship style mining operation.
Sampling to date indicates the mineralisation at SWNG contains slightly higher SiO2 (silicon dioxide) content than the Company’s Nendo Project. However, with results as low less than 1% total SiO2 and almost one third of the samples containing below 16% total SiO2, there is excellent potential to delineate significant tonnages of DSO quality, high value material with lower silica content.
The critical “reactive silica” content is expected to be substantially less than the total SiO2 content measured by the hand held XRF. As the “reactive silica” and “available alumina” analysis for these samples cannot be tested with the handheld XRF tool, represented samples will be sent to a certified Australian laboratory for analysis.
The Company’s prospecting activities have covered a large area and have been designed to determine the geographical distribution of areas with favourable bauxite. For the most part, one sample is taken from each site at a depth of more than one metre below surface. While hand augers have on occasion been used to test the depth of mineralised profiles (maximum depth for these augers is 6 metres), no conclusions on the depth of the bauxite deposits with the SWNG Project are yet to be determined.
About the South West New Georgia Bauxite Project
The South West New Georgia Prospecting Licence covers an area of 236km² and targets bauxitic clays on uplifted limestone reef (averaging more than 100m above sea level), analogous in nature to the Nendo Project. Much of the tenure at SW New Georgia appears unexplored, and represents a significant exploration opportunity for Pacific Bauxite. The area to be explored within the new Prospecting Licence is three times the area being targeted at Nendo Project.
Prior exploration by Australian companies in the early 1970’s identified extensive areas of bauxite mineralisation and postulated the potential for economic deposits at SW New Georgia.
This historical work targeted areas in the southern part of the Prospecting Licence, with the main area tested located north of the village of Ziata. This work included several hand-auger drilling and pit sampling programs. The primary drilling campaign focused on an area of approximately 3.5km by 1km and included 39 auger holes for 101 samples. This work identified substantial tonnages of material with grades of between 40% and 45% total Al2O3 and 5% to 10% total SiO2.
During the Company’s recent Awareness Program, Company representatives substantiated the historical fieldwork by identifying extensive bauxite mineralisation present in road cuttings and areas of ground disturbance, as well as meeting with landowners engaged in the previous exploration.
Past exploration indicates the tenor of the mineralisation at the South West New Georgia Project is in line with typical DSO bauxite deposits in the Asia-Pacific region, and comparable to that defined by Pacific Bauxite at the Nendo Bauxite Project.