ASX-listed Mount Ridley Mines has lifted the tempo of its iron ore search at Weld Range West in WA’s mid-west, along strike from Sinosteel’s 300 million tonne Weld Range resource in the region. A second drilling campaign has started on the back of visual cues from Mount Ridley’s maiden drilling programme for which assays are awaited.
Mount Ridley completed its acquisition of the 52 sq.km Weld Range West tenure late last year and wasted little time getting in a drill rig to start smashing out the metres.
The company started initial drilling in April to test for haematite zones in the banded iron formation, or “BIF” as it looks to generate direct shipping iron ore at the project. Sinosteel has received all primary project approvals for its proposed high-grade direct shipping ore project next door.
Mount Ridley has previously tabled an exploration target of 5-to-30Mt of direct shipping ore, or “DSO” at Weld Range West and has budgeted some $3 million for exploration this year.
The project tenure hosts three parallel BIF horizons with the Madoonga formation furthest to the north, the Lulworth formation located centrally and the Wilgie Mia formation in the south.
All three horizons are believed by the company to be prospective for high-grade iron ore going over 62.5 per cent iron. A total of 37 holes for 2,638m were completed as part of the first campaign along the Wilgie Mia and Lulworth BIFs.
Whilst assays from 883 samples from the early drilling remain outstanding, Mount Ridley says sufficient information on haematite development has been obtained to get drill rods turning again.
While we are very keen to get our assay results, we are sufficiently encouraged by the geological observations of drill samples collected during the May drilling programme to resume drilling as soon as possible and have extended the drilling budget to test the central Lulworth Formation BIF.
Drilling targeting eastern extensions of the Lulworth BIF could precede activity even further east along the Lulworth formation target zone that is awaiting heritage protection survey clearance.
In May Mount Ridley also completed separate geophysical surveys at Weld Range West over the Wilgie Mia and Lulworth formations. Management says both surveys have now confirmed the Lulworth BIF continues under cover, which was previously not evident from surface mapping.
In another apparent boost to the company’s efforts to define extensive iron ore resources at Weld Range West, the first round of drilling identified the presence of channel iron deposits in a stratigraphic layer up to 15m thick along the flanks of the Lulworth BIF.
The channel iron deposits were previously recognised along the Wilgie Mia BIF through geological mapping, but not along the Lulworth formation.
Weld West Range lies on the south-western portion of the Weld Ranges that extend for about 66km. Mount Ridley’s landholding covers 12km or 18 per cent of the length of the geographical feature.
China-backed Sinosteel’s Madoonga and Beebyn deposits east of Mount Ridley’s ground, with a combined 300Mt of iron ore resources, are located in that company’s 54km stretch of the Weld Ranges.
Aeromagnetic imagery appears to show that the BIF units that host Beebyn and Madoonga are continuous with a north-east to south-west strike direction running into Mount Ridley’s ground.
Previous field reconnaissance works at Weld Range West have returned iron samples from multiple locations grading between 58.2 per cent and 63.2 per cent iron.
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