News flow is key for speculative energy in junior mining stock, but things get complicated when you partner with a major. A great example of this is the news today from Bell Copper (TSXV:BCU).
What happened? Results from first 5-holes drilled by major partner at Kabba.
So what? Gold and other pathfinders in one hole are good signs for a copper porphyry.
What next? Results from 2 holes in December pending, then clarity on whether the major will advance the option.
If you look at news release, you might think, "No grades?" or "Where's the plan map?" Many analysts encourage you to avoid any company that doesn't provide basic information like this because it suggests they are either preying on others who don't know what they're doing or don't know what they're doing themselves. Bell Copper is different.
Don’t believe me? Just watch the video interviews with CEO Tim Marsh on youtube. He sleeps in the back of his truck in a bivvy bag when the partner Kennecott is drilling because he wants to make sure the job gets done right. That helps me trust that they know what they are doing.
Next question, does what they are doing matter? Well, the size of prize at Kabba is substantial. Tim drilled the first deep holes at Resolution Mine in Arizona and it is now a huge copper mine. They are in the right neighbourhood for a massive discovery that will be meaningful to majors who are in constant battle to replace reserves. Note that parts of Resolution are a bornite-rich porphyry, which means higher grades and is something that Tim is looking to find again at Kabba.
If you're still with me, then you probably want to know what exactly they are doing. What is the geological thesis they are testing?
Well, I have a sense for it after talking with Tim several times at the conferences during "Mineral Exploration Week" in Vancouver and I will endeavour to share what I've found in a series of interviews to follow. In short, I believe there is a historically-significant scientific story shaping up here that speculators in Bell Copper stock should be keen to know.
The release today reports that gold was found in the 17th hole drilled at site, which is the fifth hole by partner Kennecott. These 5 holes focused on testing several chargeability highs across the property identified in an IP survey. After drilling, it is clear that these highs were caused by pyrite. It could have been caused by copper, but that would have been a bad thing in my opinion because it would mean the copper system was broken up and moved around. Tim's working hypothesis that there is a large copper porphyry still intact on the property is itself intact after the first holes by their new partner.
An exploration geologist will tell you that it's important to know where deposit isn't located, but the rest of us want to know where it is. Watch Tim answer this tough question, "When will there be a discovery at Kabba?" in an interview from November on the company's youtube here:
When Tim speaks of "continually growing body of evidence" that Kabba has features of giant copper porphyry, he mentions they are drilling the flanks of giant copper porphyry system. Why waste time drilling the flanks?
Good exploration geology is about answering a series of questions and I think the first major question Tim worked on was: "how far was the upper part of the porphyry moved away from the roots of system that are seen at surface?" To give you a sense for how difficult it is to answer this question, Bell Copper's second hole was a one-mile step out from their first one. And that was 17 years ago!
The long answer to the question "How far did it move" is a great exploration story with several layers of information. It's all on the edge of my understanding, but I look forward to helping bring the story to the public in these interviews I just mentioned. For now, I will simply say that my impression is the right way to answer that question entailed drilling along the flanks of the main porphyry target.
And the next question may well be: "How big is the copper shell?" That is where things get interesting and lots of drilling will be required to establish the shape of something that could contain billions of tonnes of ore