Australians target US gold placers

It is unusual for Australian companies to explore in the USA but Southern Gold is spreading its gold exploration tentacles that way. Drilling will start next week in the first of a three-staged program to prove up and develop a palaeoplacer gold project in the main mineralised corridor of Wyoming. The move is among the first by an Australian explorer into palaeoplacer exploration – gold bearing shallow gravels which are readily mined and treated. Similar geological environments in California and Alaska are home to prominent palaeoplacer mines.

The Wyoming drill start adds to Southern Gold’s initial overseas foray 12 months ago with its agreement with Cambodia’s Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to develop local gold and base metals projects.

Southern Gold is making its entry into the US resources sector through a new joint venture, Sweetwater Exploration, with private company, New Discovery Gold. The Adelaide explorer will have the right to earn up to a 90% interest under the Joint Venture agreement, to develop the South Pass palaeoplacer gold project in Freemont County, 400 km northwest of Denver. An internationally recognised placer expert from Micon International, Dr Richard Garnett, has been retained by the JV to advise and direct the project.

Drilling of six holes will commence to evaluate the large volume of highly prospective gold-bearing placer material in a 12 km long by 500-m wide palaeodrainage channel identified through magnetic surveys and previous drilling. Southern Gold’s Managing Director, Stephen Biggins, said this initial work had defined gold-bearing gravels between 10 and 15 m thick under just 10 m of younger sedimentary cover. “The geology of the area hosts the Archaean South Pass granite-greenstone belt remarkably similar to Precambrian volcano-sedimentary terrains of the Pilbara and Yilgarn in Western Australia and Canada’s Superior Province,” Biggins said. “The South Pass region in particular has been Wyoming’s most important source of gold and iron ore, with historic production from there conservatively estimated at 350,000 oz of gold. “The joint venture provides Southern Gold with entry to a potentially very large, easily-mined and metallurgically simple, gold deposit.”