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Sarytogan Graphite grabs big slice of copper-rich Kazakhstan ground

Sarytogan Graphite has identified copper-rich malachite at its Baynazar Caldera copper-porphyry project in Kazakhstan.

ASX-listed Sarytogan Graphite (ASX: SGA) has put its foot on 282 square kilometres of prospective ground in Kazakhstan to secure a copper-porphyry deposit on the western flanks of the 30km-diameter Baynazar Caldera.

And the company says it has immediately deployed its exploration team based in the central Asian country to the site where previous work within the licence area – when the country was still part of the former Soviet Union – revealed its prospectivity for a wide range of commodities. They include copper, gold, silver, rare earths, molybdenum, cobalt, mercury, antimony and tungsten, with deposits developed along an active plate margin in a compressional regime in the Ural-Mongol Fold Belt.

The belt’s rich mineral wealth also gives rise to its alternative moniker as the Central Asian Metallogenic Domain, which is arguably one of the biggest of its type in the world.

Now more generally known as the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB), or the Altaids, it extends from the Ural Mountains in the west through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Siberia, Northern China and Mongolia and is the product of a complex evolution lasting for more than 800 million years from the Proterozoic to about the end of the Palaeozoic.

Geological processes along the belt, especially at its margins, include formation and assimilation of island arcs, ophiolites, oceanic islands, seamounts, accretionary wedges, oceanic plateaux and micro-continents.

Sarytogan’s Baynazar project sits in a Devonian volcanic belt that is part of the COAB, on a geological arc that trends locally from roughly north-south at the project to curve east and then north-east as one might follow it towards Mongolia. The locality features a cluster of volcanic calderas, ranging from 7km to 30km in diameter, of which the Baynazar caldera is the biggest and contains three smaller collapsed caldera/volcanoes within its margins.

The company’s tenement on the flanks of Baynazar also includes two smaller calderas, the biggest about 8km in diameter.

Historic aeromagnetic and geochemical anomalies in gold, copper, copper-gold, copper-gold-moly and tungsten occur along a north-south trend within the tenement, seemingly indicating a corridor of anomalism associated within an as-yet undefined linear trend or corridor that appears to be one of a family of structural controls on volcanic activity.

The trend, likely to be mirrored on the eastern side of the Baynazar Caldera, could be a prime structural location for intrusive-hosted mineralisation. That theory is supported by the presence of the Almaty copper-porphyry mine only about 6km from the north-east margin of the Baynazar Caldera.

Sarytogan has deployed its established exploration team in Kazakhstan to copper exploration. The Central Asian Orogenic Belt is known to host many world-class copper-gold porphyry deposits. Baynazar is the first of a portfolio of copper exploration projects that the Company plans to assemble to complement the battery metals thematic at Sarytogan.
Sarytogan Graphite Managing Director Sean Gregory

The CAOB is one of the most researched orogenic belts in the world due to its significance in the research of continental accretion and ore formation processes. It contains abundant natural resources, including mineral ores and oil and gas and hosts several giant copper-gold porphyry deposits.

In Kazakhstan, such projects include the producing Bozshakol operation with 1.42 billion tonnes at 0.34 per cent copper and 0.13 per cent gold and the producing Aktogai with its 1.944 billion tonnes at 0.32 per cent copper. They also include other smaller, but still impressive Koksai, Kounrad and Nurkazgan copper projects that all have between 213 million tonnes and 637 million tonnes at copper grades ranging from 0.42 per cent copper to 0.81 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, with those numbers, Kazakhstan is the world’s 11th-biggest producer of copper, pumping out 600,000 tonnes of the valuable reddish metal last year. The CAOB also includes the mind-bendingly massive Oyu Tolgoi copper project in Mongolia that contains 30 million tonnes of copper and 44 million ounces of gold.

Sarytogan references Soviet-era exploration, during which more than 300 mineral occurrences were observed and partially explored and it has obtained location details of anomalism, historic grab and trench metalliferous samples and aero-magnetic anomalies. It says abundant evidence of copper may be found throughout its exploration licence, including malachite in hand specimen from the margin of the smaller satellite Zhangeldy Caldera in the southern part of its ground.

The company says it has been advised by the Kazakhstan Government that its exploration licence application will be granted upon payment of environmental insurance, which has now been paid.

With its geologists already in the field to kick off soil sampling in prospective areas, Sarytogan says it plans to undertake an imminent high-resolution airborne magnetics survey over the full licence area. Its objective is to build a portfolio of prospective ground in the region to meet its goal of becoming a significant battery metals supplier.

If it is indeed true that “to find elephants you need to look in elephant country,” then Sarytogan could do no better than to begin its search for copper in this proven orogenic belt.

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