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Buxton mission with IGO a game-changer in the making

Buxton Resources chief executive officer Martin Moloney is overseeing a wide range of promising projects. Credit: File

Prospective ground secured by Buxton Resources in Western Australia’s West Kimberley region in 2015 is now looming as a company game-changer – and for more reasons than one as it continues to foster a powerful business relationship with mining giant IGO.

New nickel-copper sulphides potential revealed today from the joint venture’s Quick Shears project could be just the tip of the iceberg for a burgeoning partnership that also includes international exploration in Arizona. While the pairing began with some complex arrangements regarding several West Kimberley tenements, it is now gaining more streamlined momentum, with its Quick Shears project taking shape as a key contributor.

IGO has made a flying finish with the second diamond drillhole it plunged into the JV’s Dogleg prospect that is part of Quick Shears, intersecting 2.85m of semi-massive sulphide mineralisation from 233.65m. The intercept is estimated to contain more than 60 per cent sulphides, with visually-logged nickel and copper sulphide mineralisation confirmed by portable x-ray diffraction (pXRF) spot analyses.

The hole targeted a geophysically-interpreted pierce point 65m down-plunge from a previously disclosed intercept in the preceding hole of 6.57m of massive sulphides from 179.1m.

While visual estimates of intersected sulphide mineralisation indicating pyrrhotite (barren sulphide), pentlandite (nickel sulphide), and chalcopyrite (copper sulphide) are supported by pXRF analyses, independent chemical analysis is required to confirm and quantify the mineralisation.

Buxton says it expects analytical results from the first and second holes will all be returned within the next two months.

Fieldwork in the Kimberley is seasonal, meaning that with the completion of the second diamond drillhole and a downhole electromagnetic survey scheduled to be completed in the coming week, field activities will be concluded.

The Dogleg prospect sits within the West Kimberley’s Proterozoic Ruins Dolerite belt where the JV is targeting Nova-style magmatic nickel-copper sulphide mineralisation. It was originally identified as an area of interest based on the interpretation of magnetic data, which appears analogous to the features associated with the company’s Merlin nickel copper prospect, just 13km to the south-east.

IGO became the project operator on gaining a 64 per cent share of Quick Shears in a 2019 restructure of the original JV agreements. Buxton retains a 16 per cent exposure and the remainder of the play is held by the ground’s original owner, Tim Tatterson.

This is a major validation of the West Kimberley magmatic nickel sulphide prospectivity and it underpins the significance of Buxton’s 2015 discovery at Merlin/Double Magic, which is just 13km away. Our shareholders continue to benefit as IGO directs its exploration funding and know-how toward Buxton’s diversified portfolio of exploration projects under JV, which includes Copper Wolf in Arizona, the West Kimberley Projects and in the Fraser Range. Buxton Resources chief executive officer Martin Moloney

First listed on the ASX in 2007, Buxton was initially focused on gold and iron ore in the Fraser Range. The company discovered high-grade magnetite at Zanthus in late 2010 and declared the project’s maiden resource in 2011.

Then in 2012, it acquired the Graphite Bull (then known as Yalbra) project in WA’s emerging Murchison region and defined resources in 2013 and again in 2014 – the latest inferred mineral resource being 4 million tonnes at a grade of 16.2 per cent total graphitic carbon (TGC). While the IGO partnership is offering genuine upside for the company, it regards its 100 per cent-owned Graphite Bull project as a sparkling jewel within its crown and battery anode material (BAM) studies have been ongoing at the site since late last year.

Buxton made the Merlin nickel-copper-cobalt discovery in 2015 and within three years, IGO – which has a bulging market cap of $8.6 billion – had obviously seen enough to want to join in.

Buxton Resources core from Dogleg. Credit: File

In early November, 2018, Buxton acquired New World Cobalt’s West Kimberley project, comprising that company’s interest in three tenements totalling about 552 square kilometres and containing highly-prospective host rocks contiguous with and continuing into Buxton’s Merlin project. It includes the north-west continuation of the geological sequence that hosts the adjacent Merlin and Double Magic projects.

Later the same month, IGO moved to take up 15 per cent of Buxton’s capital structure via a placement, kicking in some $4 million into the company’s coffers. Buxton also granted IGO a two-year option to earn in and ultimately achieve a 70 per cent JV interest in the Double Magic/Merlin operation by spending $8 million in four years, with the former to be free-carried to completion of a feasibility study.

An additional agreement also allowed IGO to earn into an 80 per cent interest in Buxton’s regional tenement land position in the West Kimberley outside of the Merlin-Double Magic project area by spending a further $3 million in four years and with the same free-carrying arrangement.

By this point, Buxton now had farm-in and JV agreements in three separate project areas, all of which now fall within its partnership with IGO. And while all that was playing out, IGO had also clearly been taken by Buxton’s eye for prospective ground and decided to join in on the latter’s Copper Wolf project in Arizona.

IGO almost immediately put its renowned hard-yakka ethic to work when it started drilling earlier this year and Buxton last month revealed that 626.88m of porphyry-style chalcopyrite-molybdenite mineralisation had been observed in a second drillhole at the project.

Finally, in October last year, Buxton shareholders approved an amendment for IGO to increase its stake in Merlin to 80 per cent in return for a further $1 million cash payment. But it seems unlikely that it will be the last time the two companies join forces smash out a new deal.

Mr Moloney recently took Buxton’s reins as chief executive officer after taking over from long-time former boss Eamon Hannon in August. And he is clearly focused on the company’s established theme of translating well-chosen prospective tenure into good deals … with potentially long legs.

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