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Larvotto Resources to drill high-grade gold at historic NSW mine

Updated: Mar 21

Larvotto Resources’ Hillgrove plant, currently on care and maintenance Credit: File

Larvotto Resources has kicked off a 2000m diamond drilling program to test previous high grade gold intercepts at its recently acquired 100 per cent owned Hillgrove project, 23km east of Armidale in NSW. 


Drilling will focus on the Bakers Creek area, which was the first locality opened up in the Hillgrove area by miners in 1877 who concentrated on the extraction of gold rather than the accompanying antimony.


The spectacular drill results from 2022 drilling at Bakers Creek need to be extended and infilled to bring them into the Hillgrove resource. The location and grade of the intercepts there makes this drilling our highest priority to demonstrate the full potential of the Bakers Creek lode, the highest-grade zone mined at Hillgrove, to significantly upgrade the mineral resources while we move into reserve estimation from our current base. Larvotto Managing Director, Ron Heeks


Early smaller gold mines in the area were soon eclipsed by the discovery of gold at Baker’s Creek in March 1887 by George Smith who stumbled upon a rich outcrop of gold near the bottom of the gorge.


After pegging what is now known as the Baker’s Creek Goldmining Company’s lease, Smith formed a partnership with his brother William and two others to pay for the purchase of a small plant.


The first returns from the mine were impressive at 51 ounces of gold to the tonne and within a short time the partners had pulled £2,500 worth of gold from the ground, precipitating a gold rush of about 1500  people to the area with numbers doubling the following year.


The show soon pricked the interest of established capital and in August 1887, Smith and party sold the claim to an Adelaide company resulting in the establishment of the Baker’s Creek Goldmining Company with a capital of £100,000.


A twenty-head crushing plant was installed and a tramway was built for more efficient transport up and down the steep gorge.


The mine remained one of the richest in New South Wales for the first decade of the twentieth century.


Past production from Bakers Creek is estimated at about 304,000 ounces of gold from 176,000 tonnes of ore, mostly between about 1880 and 1916, for an average grade of over 50 g/t gold, making it the most productive gold mining area in the Hillgrove mineral field.


The town of Hillgrove was established in 1884 and grew rapidly during the 1880s and 1890s due to increasing production of the mining companies.


Larvotto views the area as retaining significant potential for new high-grade gold resources which is perhaps unsurprising considering results from recent drilling into the Little Reef lode.


Little Reef forms part of the Bakers Creek reef system and is also associated with a series of other parallel and north/north-west oblique lodes.


Historical records indicate that mining at Little Reef over a north-west strike of 280m to a vertical extent of 550m below the base of the gorge yielded production in 1890 at grades above 2 ounces per tonne. 


Larvotto says three diamond drill holes in 2022 designed to hit the extension of Little Reef with the aim of finding a repeat of the steeply dipping high grade ore shoots successfully demonstrated reef continuity.


The program yielded the following notable results from longer high grade intercepts in each hole including 0.45m at an eye watering 257g/t gold; 0.4m going 96.8g/t gold and 0.6m running 108 g/t gold, the latter accompanying a shorter 0.4m intercept higher in the same hole running  525 g/t gold.


Larvotto says each of the three drill holes intercepted quartz breccia structures on trend with the Little Reef structure. Along with other structures in the approach to the footwall structure, the breccias display visible gold, reflected by high grade analyses.


The Hillgrove project is located  375km north of Sydney, and 23km east of the regional city of Armidale in northern New South Wales, placing it within easy reach of key supportive infrastructure including major highways, grid power, rail links and regional airports.


The company’s Hillgrove tenure encloses a total of 254 sq km made up of four exploration licences and 48 granted mining leases, containing a current measured, indicated and inferred gold-antimony mineral resource estimate of 1.4 million ounce gold equivalent at a grade of 6.1 g/t gold equivalent.


The numbers make Hillgrove’s resource the largest critical mineral antimony deposit in Australia, with contained antimony at 90,000 tonnes and total contained gold exceeding 1 million ounces.  


Larvotto’s total acquisition consideration was a tolerable $8 million, for which the company virtually has a walk-in operation with a quality resource estimate to be filled out as work progresses, full site infrastructure and a plant on care and maintenance.


Additionally, dozens of high grade reefs are known in the immediate site area, while other numerous targets within the site area and almost certainly further afield are crying out to be drilled.


A tailings storage dam containing an estimated 1.4 million tonnes at a grade of 1.34 g/t gold, along with antimony and tungsten, is still being evaluated and metallurgically tested and may lead to early cashflows ahead of any restart of the actual mine.


It will be fascinating to see what Larvotto can do with this heady mix of opportunities.  

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