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Strickland Metals stamps foot on Serbian gold giant

The Serbian sun is rising on a new gold project for Strickland Metals.

Strickland Metals (ASX: STK) has entered the lucrative Serbian gold game after shelling out $37 million to nab the Rogozna project that already boasts a whopping resource of 5.44 million JORC-compliant ounces of gold equivalent.

The company says advanced exploration targets at Rogozna offer plenty of near-term growth potential, with diamond drilling outside of the existing resource going as high as a staggering 352m at 2.1 grams per tonne gold equivalent from 240m.

Management executed the purchase of the project’s owner Betoota Holdings, which is held by a subsidiary of Ibaera Capital Fund, primarily through issuing a package of Strickland shares that will be escrowed for 18 months. It means Strickland is now the 100 per cent owner of Rogozna, which offers mineralisation in the form of a copper-gold porphyry system.

Part of the deal also includes a Strickland boardroom boost, with the addition of Ibaera partners Paul L’Herpiniere, who will take the role of managing director, and Dr Jon Hronsky – both highly-regarded WA mining identities.

L’Herpiniere, a former exploration manager for FMG, is a co-founder of Ibaera, which is a resource-focused private equity firm with more than $US150 million (AU$233.6 million) worth of assets under its management. Hronsky, one of Australia’s leading geoscientists who will join Strickland as a non-executive director, is credited with the work that led to WA’s West Mulgrave sulphide nickel province discovery and was in 2019 awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the mining industry.

L’Herpiniere and Hronsky are both well-acquainted with the Rogozna project, having been closely involved in its development since 2017 through Ibaera’s involvement. Chief executive officer Andrew Bray will step down from the role, but will remain with the company as a consultant.

The Project has the potential to grow into one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits globally.
Strickland Metals outgoing chief executive officer Andrew Bray

Strickland now has four prospects at Rogozna. The booked resource is spread across two prospects – Shanac and Copper Canyon - with further exploration potential in the Medenovac and Gradina prospects.

The Shanac resource was compiled last year by Matrix Resource Consultants in Perth and sits at 130 million tonnes at 1.1g/t gold equivalent, with 0.63g/t gold, 0.1 per cent copper, 5.1g/t silver, 0.2 per cent lead and 0.28 per cent zinc. In terms of contained metal, that equates to 4.63 million ounces of gold equivalent – 2.63 million ounces of gold, 130,000 tonnes of copper, 21.3 million ounces of silver, 260,000 tonnes of lead and 364,000 tonnes of zinc.

The resource at Copper Canyon was calculated by MPR Geological Consultants in Perth in 2021 and shows 28 million tonnes at 0.9g/t gold equivalent, with 0.4g/t gold and 0.3 per cent copper. It tallies 810,000 ounces of gold equivalent, broken down to 360,000 ounces of gold and 84,000 tonnes of copper metal.

In total, both deposits hold the 5.44 million ounces of gold equivalent – 2.99 million ounces of gold, 214,000 tonnes of copper, 21.3 million ounces of silver, 260,000 tonnes of lead and 364,000 tonnes of zinc.

Strickland’s acquisition of Rogozna is being undertaken at an attractive valuation metric of ~A$6.80 (US$4.40) per oz AuEq. We see the Project as offering tremendous leverage to a rapidly improving gold price environment. In our view, the Project has the potential to grow into one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits globally (with significant copper and zinc), making it precisely the type of asset that will attract very compelling valuations as the project advances.
Strickland Metals outgoing chief executive officer Andrew Bray

Bray said Rogozna offers “incredible upside” on top of an already significant base through the potential for significant copper-gold porphyry mineralisation outside of the main prospect areas.

Historical drilling at Rogozna spans several decades and the latest hole drilled by previous owners Zlatna Reka Resources, which was in turn held by Betoota, have assays due back shortly. In all, 215 diamond holes have been drilled in the area for 123,522m of hole.

Some of the best drill hits include 131m at 0.9g/t gold equivalent from 255m including 10m at 2.7g/t gold equivalent from 376m and 206m at 0.9g/t gold equivalent from 419m including 16m at 3.1g/t gold equivalent from 416m. The best intersection of 352m at 2.1 g/t gold equivalent included a coffee spitting high-grade section of 97m grading 5.1/t gold equivalent from 321m.

Importantly, all of the intersections came from the Medenovac prospect and lie outside of the existing mineral resource estimate. Strickland says the mineralisation remains open along strike and at depth and it has Medenovac in its sights as a substantial high-order target just begging to see the drill bit.

Management says Medenovac has an exploration target of 55 million to 85 million tonnes at between 0.5g/t and 0.7g/t gold, 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent copper and 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent zinc.

Not to be outdone, the Gradina prospect has produced drill hits as high as 228m at 1.4g/t gold equivalent from 488m including 15m at 3.9g/t from 632m and 22m at 4.1g/t from 691m. Another hit went 113m at 2.3g/t gold equivalent from 435m.

Gradina has an exploration target of 40 million to 60 million tonnes at between 1.2g/t and 1.7g/t gold and 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent zinc.

The Rogozna project area comprises four exploration licences covering some 184 square kilometres in an established mining region in the southern Raška District in the Republic of Serbia. The turf is about 10km to 12km from the regional centre of Novi Pazar and about 400km south of the capital, Belgrade.

On completion of the Rogozna deal, Strickland says it will get a drill bit into the ground as soon as possible, with a bold mission to grow the existing resource. The company says it has 60,000m of exploration diamond drilling planned.

And with a healthy $54 million in cash and Northern Star shares in its coffers following the savvy sale of its Millrose project last year, it is in a healthy position to aggressively pursue drill meters.

Serbia has an established mining industry with a long history of large-scale producing assets and is Europe’s second-biggest copper producer. Multiple major mining companies are active in country including BHP, Vale, Zijin Mining, Dundee Precious Metals and Rio Tinto.

Strickland has entered elephant country in Serbia, with ounces already on the books, exploration targets begging to be drilled and cash to throw at maturing the ground. It means there should be plenty of news flow out of the Balkans in the coming year as the company builds it campaign to define more ounces at Rogozna.

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