An exploration company is moving to the next stage after making significant discoveries in a project that could lead to a new gold and copper mine being opened near Wellington.
Impact Minerals has reported to the Australian Stock Exchange and shareholders it was about to begin the first test drilling at the site south of Wellington.
Managing director Dr Mike Jones said early work had uncovered "clear targets at shallow depths that warrant urgent drill testing" at part of the site named the Commonwealth Project.
"Statutory approvals have now been lodged and a drill rig has been booked for late February-early March," he said.
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Dr Jones said if the test drilling produced further positive finds it would still take up to five years to obtain government, planning and landowner approvals to open a mine.
He said the drilling program would last for four to six weeks.
"This is the first-ever drill program in that area," he said.
Dr Jones said earlier plans to start drilling last year had been delayed to allow for more analysis after its finds.
Crews and equipment had also needed to do more drilling at another company site near Broken Hill.
He said they had "very encouraging results" from surveys of rocks and soil.
This is the first-ever drill program in that area.Dr Mike Jones, managing director Impact Minerals
Dr Jones said that included the discovery of a "classic example of a so-called zinc doughnut."
He said that occurred where an outer halo of zinc, lead and manganese surrounded a core of copper, gold and platinum group metals.
"Such doughnuts are well understood in porphyry copper-gold exploration," Dr Jones said.
He said the Commonwealth Project was part of a geological area known as the Lachlan Fold Belt which included the Cadia mine site south of Orange.
Dr Jones said the initial finds had produced samples of metal-hosting rocks similar to those at Cadia.
The company is also selling part of its exploration area to an unrelated private company known as Orange Minerals Pty Ltd which could see further development in the area.
"Orange Minerals has acquired a number of other assets in the Lachlan Fold Belt with the aim of listing on the [stock exchange] in mid-2021," Dr Jones said.
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