Paris of the south

Exploration company Investigator Resources is advancing significant silver and copper greenfield potential in South Australia working towards possible production.

Over the past year the company has been undertaking an aggressive drilling program, with the aim of announcing its Paris silver prospect’s maiden resource estimate in the 2013 September quarter.

Investigator’s targets, located in the same geological province as the BHP Olympic Dam mine, are breathing life into the Eyre Peninsula.

In addition to the Peter­lumbo field surrounding Paris, the company has staked out another three potential new silver fields, mapped out copper potential, and identified an IOCG copper gold target on the Northern Yorke Peninsula.

The key Paris discovery, situated about 250 kilometres south of Olympic dam and 350 kilometres north of Adelaide, is the result of Investigator’s innovative exploration model which saw the company enlist regional geochemistry to map out mineral corridors and fields.

Now dubbed the Moonta Corridor Model, the process explores prospective geology that was eroded off the top of Olympic Dam but remains preserved on the Eyre Peninsula, delivering heightened exploration focus.

In other words it points out where to explore; but the challenge of how to see through the cover remains.

While other explorers have used magnetics and gravity geophysics to sense targets in the region, Investigator chose to take the geochemistry exploration path which the company said allowed them to “see through the thinner cover”.

A move which was to take two years, sampling and surveying the entire tenement, the company said.

“Surveying such a large area is normally done by government research organisations or very large companies,” the explorer said.

Collecting such detailed data proved to be the company’s advantage, the first target drilled resulted in the Paris silver discovery in late 2011.

“The geology is similar to the setting for the style of epithermal silver deposits that are the major silver producing mines in Latin America,” Investigator managing director John Anderson explained to Australian Mining.

In what is shaping out to be a promising area, the company said Paris is just the beginning of the Peterlumbo field’s potential.

“Amongst the abundant soil targets, the priorities are the two large silver targets at Alexander (two kilometres west of Paris) and Hector (15 kilometres east),” Anderson stated.

The project is located on a pastoral lease, below the wheat belt where native title has been successfully settled.

“Investigator has an Indi­genous Land Use Agreement with the native title holders and is able to proceed with exploration,” Anderson said.

Challenging times have settled upon the mining sector with volatile commodity prices and higher costs impacting both the major and minor players.

Market conditions over the last 12 months have made it incredibly difficult for juniors to raise funding, a sentiment that was echoed at last month’s investor and mining conference, Sydney Resources Round-up.

A number of investors at the event were excited about the prospect of picking up undervalued mining stocks over the next few months.

Anderson said with cash in the bank and good governmental relationships Investigator is well placed to take advantage of its targets.

“I expect Investigator will be one of the few junior exploration companies with results and the momentum to be well positioned to grow when the minerals investment market decides to improve,” Anderson said.

Already the resource sector is experiencing a decline in exploration activity, a trend which has been blamed on decreasing discovery rates, a focus on brownfield exploration rather than greenfield operations, difficulty raising equity, and a shift to offshore projects.

Western Areas finance director David Southam argued that policy and regulation changes which hinders the flow of overseas investment and exploration spending which also provides flow on benefits to mining service companies, was not good for the sector.

“Exploration companies are the lifeblood of the mining industry, and if you look at the statistics it’s been steadily declining over the last few years,” he said.

“So anything that hinders (exploration) is not good. It’s the nursery of the industry and the nursery is getting hit. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of argy-bargy during consultation.”

A recent Grant Thornton report published in November found juniors and explorers are facing a number of constraints including the availability and instability of equity capital, market volatility, and government red tape and policy with the introduction of the carbon tax and MRRT.

At the time the company’s national head of corporate finance Paul Gooley said that the availability and difficulty of sourcing funding was a major challenge for the smaller miners with 68 per cent of companies’ surveyed saying they expect to raise capital in the next 12 months.

Although, amidst all doom and gloom there is opportunity, Equinox Resources co-founder Craig Williams explained that for juniors and explorers to go the distance it takes “dogged determination”,and persistence for acquiring finance.

And then, there’s always the TSX which has a strong legacy of supporting up and coming miners.

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