Category Archives: Exploration

Bougainville project looks prospective for Kalia

Matt Birney | The West Australian | January 21, 2019

Kalia Limited has completed a detailed and highly anticipated geophysical survey program over the Mt Tore JV tenements located at the northern end of mineral-rich Bougainville Island in PNG.

According to the company, an initial review of the geophysical data identified deep seated, intrusive geological complexes and potential structural pathways for the sought after base and precious metal mineralisation.

The airborne survey produced nearly 11,000-line kilometres of data over the company’s large exploration licences covering more than 1,700 square kilometres, with the data set currently undergoing final processing by Fathom Geophysics.

Preliminary imagery of the survey data has been created and is currently being used by Kalia personnel on-site to commence generation of potential new exploration targets.

The magnetic data response apparently coincides well with the topography in this part of the island, which Kalia believes is representative of the thickness of the in-situ volcanic units – being thicker in the easternmost EL03 tenement and thinner in excised river valleys elsewhere.

The company’s Technical Director Peter Batten said: “2019 has commenced with fieldwork in EL03 toward the Teoveane – Puspa target with work scheduled to focus there and at Melilup this month.”

“… this new dataset will provide an excellent insight into the geology and structural framework of the project area and assist with optimizing on-ground target follow-up.”

“This will allow the team to more accurately plan for expeditions onto known targets and is especially important for EL04 where the complete lack of geophysical data has previously hampered effective exploration activities.”

Kalia considers the northern part of Bougainville very prospective for many different styles of metallic mineralisation, including porphyry copper-gold deposits, epithermal multi-mineral base metal/gold deposits and volcanogenic massive sulphide mineral occurrences.

According to management, the recent geophysical survey was the first conducted on Bougainville since 1987 and has much better spatial resolution and a fuller coverage than the earlier work.

Kalia has a 75% managing interest in the Tore Joint Venture Limited or “TJV” exploration licences on Bougainville.

The incredible prospectivity of Bougainville is well known with the mothballed Panguna Mine, which still retains an amazing 1.8 billion tonne JORC-compliant mineral resource at 0.3% copper and 0.34g/t gold, serving as a signpost of the island’s potential mineral endowment.

The two Kalia-held exploration licences were the first tenements issued to a non-Bougainvillean entity after the lifting of the moratorium on mining activity by the Autonomous Bougainville Government in May 2017.

Kalia appears to have integrated well with the local communities and its 75/25 JV with local landholders will be held up as the new mining model on Bougainville if Kalia can get its project off the ground.

Generation of new exploration targets from the $1 million investment in the geophysical survey work and interpretation are expected to drop out shortly, with the company anticipating to define additional prospectivity in areas of its tenement holdings never previously surveyed.

With a solid foundation established in the community and the landowner base, Kalia, through the TJV, is poised to start delivering regular assay results from its exploration field work in 2019.

The company is building up a plethora of new geological data on Bougainville that could throw up a treasure trove of exploratory targets over its large land holding on the island.

That this mineral rich province has been off the radar for so long makes the company’s activities very interesting and something of a frontier exploration play, where anything of any size could potentially be unearthed.

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Kalia about to hit its straps in Bougainville

Matt Birney | The West Australian | 12 December 2018

Kalia Limited has been busy doing the geological ground work to systematically unlock the mineral riches on Bougainville Island from early next year. It has now completed a highly anticipated geophysical survey over the Mt Tore JV tenements and commenced data interpretation for the exploration of its porphyry copper-gold assets

The JV area is located at the northern end of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

The geophysical survey produced nearly 11,000-line kilometres of data over both of the company’s large exploration licences, which has now been forwarded to Fathom Geophysics for interpretation.

Fathom specialise in exploration beneath cover in epithermal terranes that are prevalent in PNG and the latest exploration activity represents one of the first serious exploration pushes on the mineral rich island for some time, after mining was effectively shut down when the civil war took hold three decades ago.

Kalia Managing Director Terry Larkan said: “The team in Bougainville were very excited to report that, after checking the data quality from the day’s flying, the data collection was complete. The historic value of completing this program will not be lost on those familiar with Bougainville; it was certainly not lost on our geology team …”.

Mr Larkan said the company was excited to see what secrets would be revealed once the data is processed by Fathom this month. Results will be released in January after company geologists have fully analysed and interpreted the processed data.

“In the interim we will continue with the fieldwork at the target areas identified using the results from the previous survey that covered only 20% of the (combined) EL03 and EL04 (areas)”, Mr Larkan added.

The company has a 75% managing interest in the Tore Joint Venture Limited or “TJV” exploration licences on Bougainville.

The prospectivity of Bougainville is well known with the mothballed Panguna Mine, still retaining an amazing 1.8 billion tonne JORC-compliant mineral resource at 0.3% copper and 0.34g/t gold, serving as an indicator of the island’s mineral endowment.

A moratorium on all mining activity has effectively been in place since the Australian Government, which held PNG as a territory at the time, issued exclusive rights to the predecessor entities of what is now Bougainville Copper Limited in the 1960s.

This became a blanket moratorium when mining operations stopped at Panguna in 1989 due to the ongoing Bougainville crisis.

Post the crisis, the Autonomous Bougainville Government or the “ABG” was formed through the UN sponsored peace process of 2004. The Peace Agreement gave the ABG authority for the minerals on the island.

The ABG instituted a complete moratorium on mining activity except for the abandoned Panguna Mine where they converted the Special Mining Licence into an Exploration Licence over that gigantic ore deposit.

The two Kalia-held exploration licences cover an area of just over 1,700 square kilometres and were the first tenements issued to a non-Bougainvillean entity after the lifting of the moratorium on mining activity by the ABG in May last year.

The company is presently the only listed entity actually working with licences issued under the Mining Act 2015 on Bougainville.

The Mining Act 2015 puts the actual mineral rights into the hands of the traditional landowners and requires licence holders to facilitate the formal organisation of the landowners and to negotiate access to the minerals with those same groups – a hurdle that Kalia has already managed to traverse.

Kalia appears to have integrated into the local communities well and its 75/25 JV with local landholders will be held up as the new mining model on Bougainville if Kalia can get its project to fly.

Kalia geologists have provided the TJV with a full technical review of an historical geophysical survey that covered about 40% of its easternmost exploration licence, but none of the westernmost licence.

The TJV has now completed a wider airborne geophysical survey using a helicopter to collect the data, with equipment far more advanced that that used in the original 1989 survey.

The results of this $1 million investment will be available in January next year and will better define the known target areas and are expected to identify additional targets within regions of the licence area not previously surveyed.

Some small-scale reconnaissance exploration mapping and surface sampling has been undertaken by Kalia over the exposed geology and assay results have largely corroborated the historical results.

The limited work has supported the historical conclusion that there is gold and copper mineralisation in epithermal settings in the exploration licences.

Field checking has also identified two new areas that were not identified in the historical data and these will require additional work to advance them towards being potential future drilling targets.

Rock chip sampling at the Baiano prospect has defined a 1000m x 400m wide elevated copper anomalism.

At the Teoveane prospect, potassic alteration on a volcanic intrusive rock was sampled and rock chip sample assays from the outcrop returned a very encouraging result of 6.37 g/t gold and 0.45% copper.

In addition, field exploration extended up a side stream to the north of this first outcrop where 1.1km away, another similar altered volcanic outcrop was sampled, generating a gold grade of 0.94g/t and copper grade of 0.06%.

These two areas at the Teoveane prospect are in addition to the four potential copper-gold porphyry systems and at least one intact epithermal target, identified through historical investigations.

The mineralisation noted at the historical targets is yet to be verified by field work, however ground access has now been granted to some of these targets and access is expected to others shortly.

With a solid foundation now established in the community and the landowner base, Kalia, through the TJV, is poised to start delivering regular assay results from exploration field work now.

This includes the potential announcement of additional targets from interpretation of the detailed geophysical data, which will hopefully progress rapidly to define drill targets that will unlock the mineral potential of Bougainville that has been hidden away for so long.

Kalia is building up a plethora of new geological data on Bougainville that could throw up a treasure trove of exploratory targets over its large land holding on the island.

That this mineral rich province has been off the radar for nearly three decades makes the company’s activities quite exciting and something of a frontier exploration play, where anything could be unearthed.

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Papua LNG group signs MOU with Papua New Guinea

Rick Wilkinson | Oil and Gas Journal | 16 November 2018

The Papua LNG joint venture partners led by Total SA have signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Papua New Guinea for development of the Elk-Antelope gas-condensate fields, known as the Papua LNG Project.

The scope of the agreement includes priority terms and conditions forming the basis for a gas agreement as well as a timeline for negotiation. The gas agreement is scheduled for finalization during first-quarter 2019.

The MOU follows the Papua LNG and the ExxonMobil Corp.-led PNG-LNG joint venture parties reaching broad alignment earlier this year on the preferred downstream concept for the next phase of LNG development in Papua New Guinea.

The plan involves the construction of three 2.7 million tonne/year capacity LNG trains on the existing PNG-LNG plant site at Caution Bay just west of Port Moresby. Two trains will be supplied with gas from the Elk-Antelope fields and the third train by gas from existing PNG-LNG fields and the yet-to-be developed P’nyang field in the Western Highlands. Together Elk-Antelope and P’nyang contain an estimated 11 tcf of undeveloped 2C gas resource.

The Papua LNG Project is based on the Elk-Antelope reseources in petroleum retention license PRL15 in the Eastern Highlands. Total has 31.1% interest, ExxonMobil has 28.3% interest acquired when it bought InterOil Corp. earlier this year, and Oil Search Ltd. has 17.7%. These percentages are after the state of Papua New Guinea has backed into the project for 22.5%.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill labeled the MOU as “another historic moment for Papua New Guinea and the beginning of the development of the second LNG (Project) in our country.”

He said, “Today’s memorandum paves the way for us to enter into a project gas agreement which will be negotiated between the parties over the next 3-4 months and to be concluded by Mar. 31, 2019.”

Peter Botten, managing director of Oil Search which, like ExxonMobil, is a participant in both joint ventures, said pre-FEED downstream studies on the three-train development concept are well under way. The scope of the engineering work includes design, process, and layout optimization of the expansion concept from the gas inlet to the LNG loading arm.

“Work taking place includes the brownfield tie-ins, compressor driver selection, LNG loading and shipping, condensate treatment, storage and loading, and execution planning,” Botten said. “We expect this will underpin entry into the full FEED stage.”

Botten added that discussions between the government negotiating team and the P’nyang (PRL—3) joint venture are well advanced. “With an integrated FEED entry decision required to advance the three-train expansion at the PNG-LNG site, completion of the gas agreement between the government and the PRL-3 joint venture is expected to occur in a similar timeframe to the Papua LNG Project,” he said.

The recent MOU for Papua LNG was signed as a show piece for Papua New Guinea during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in Port Moresby in the presence of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister O’Neill and Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne.

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China takes baby steps in the bottom of the Mariana Trench

The chubby, fish-like Qianlong-2 submersible is lowered from its mother vessel prior to a dive in the Indian Ocean. Photo- Xinhua.jpg

According to China’s oceanic authority, the next step for the country’s deep-sea technology is developing and testing a drilling facility named Shenlong, plus a mining platform named Kunlong and an information-sharing system called Yunlong.

Asia Times | October 22, 2018

China is getting closer to exploring the bottom of the ocean after a research mission deep in the Mariana Trench, the largest crack in the Earth’s surface that is more than 10 kilometers deep in the Pacific Ocean.

China’s oceanic research vessel Tansuo-1 returned to its home port of Sanya in southern China’s Hainan province last week, wrapping up a 54-day, 7,292-nautical-mile deep-sea research mission.

During the mission a team of 59 researchers remotely piloted and grabbed some close-up looks into the Mariana Trench.

Researchers from the Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering at the Chinese Academy of Sciences tested deep-sea equipment for geophysics, marine geology, geochemistry and marine biology.

Deep sea exploration vessel the Tansuo-1. Photo: Xinhua

During the expedition, two 7,000-meter-class deep-sea gliders operated continuously for 46 days, making it the only abyss-class glider in the world proven to be able to work continuously for an extended period of time under the sea.

A magnesium seawater fuel cell carried out two tests as the world’s first new metal seawater fuel cell tested in the 10,000-meter abyss. In addition, researchers also used a remote-controlled robot to complete high-definition live-streaming 10,000 meters down near the bottom of the trench.

Earlier this year, Chinese media reported the development of underwater platforms to be launched after 2020 to take samples on the bottom of the South China Sea, as well as plans to probe the Mariana Trench.

The People’s Daily has reported that China’s most advanced manned submersible, the Jiaolong, or “flood dragon” in Mandarin, was undergoing a retrofit at the National Deep Sea Center in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao.

Its next dive will be in the deepest part of the South China Sea, a central basin with an average depth of five kilometers. The Jiaolong can dive up to seven kilometers deep.

The launch of the Jiaolong is a landmark in China’s deep-sea exploration as scientists will be able to reach the sea floor for a closer look and complete refined sampling missions.

China is also developing a manned submersible that can dive to 11km and withstand the immense pressure with its sea trial scheduled in 2021, to “scour the bottom of the 11,034-meter-deep Mariana Trench,” according to the People’s Daily.

In April last year, the Jiaolong finished three dives in the South China Sea. It normally carries three people, a pilot and two scientists.

A dive usually starts around 7am and takes 10 hours. The three people inside can only move in a round, cramped space that has a diameter of 1.4 meters, said Gao Xiang, a senior engineer at the center.

According to China’s oceanic authority, the next step for the country’s deep-sea technology is developing and testing a drilling facility named Shenlong, plus a mining platform named Kunlong and an information-sharing system called Yunlong.

This equipment is expected to be finalized in 2020 and put into the South China Sea sometime after that.

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Futuna rejects seabed exploration and mining

Photo: AFP

Radio New Zealand | 14 September 2018 

The kingdoms on the French Pacific island of Futuna have ruled out allowing any work related to seabed mining in their waters, saying their stance is final.

The rejection of any further exploration of the seabed was expressed at a meeting in Futuna with French delegates sent to explain the potential of mining rare earths.

The king of Sigave as well as a leader of the kingdom of Alo told local television that any discussion about land matters had to held with the customary leadership and not with the assembly of Wallis and Futuna.

They said they had seen the negative impact of activities in French Polynesia and didn’t want a repeat of them in Wallis and Futuna.

At the beginning of this decade French teams carried out three exploratory missions in the territory’s waters without consulting the local kings who are officially recognised by the French republic and on its payroll.

The traditional leaders’ view of what comprises their domain clashes with the law which grants France the control of its exclusive economic zone.

Five years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France’s overseas territories.

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Cooks govt looking at seabed mining interest in Norway

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Radio New Zealand | 14 September 2018

The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown is currently in Norway discussing the possible exploration of seabed minerals in the Cook Islands waters.

The Cook Islands News reports that manganese nodules found in the Cook Islands, lie on the seabed, at depths of more than 5000 metres.

According to initial scientific studies, the nodules were of a very high quality and there is a large quantity on the seabed which could make the nation billions of dollars.

Mr Brown said they would re-advertise the tenders as there had been some new interest in exploring the seabed.

He added that all practices, including exploration and the extraction of the minerals, would have to be done in a manner which was environmentally friendly and did not impact negatively on the Cook Islands.

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Norway to Map Deep Sea Mineral Deposits

Maritime Executive | 12 August 2018

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is readying to map potential deep sea mineral deposits in the Norwegian Sea, with an expedition due to get underway this month.

The Directorate has engaged Swire Seabed, which partners with Ocean Floor Geophysics, to carry out mapping of potential sulfide minerals on the seabed over the Mohns Ridge in the western Norwegian Sea. This is a spreading ridge in the Atlantic Ocean that separates two oceanic plates, where potential valuable minerals have been formed through hot volcanic sources. The focus of the expedition is not the active hydraulic systems such as “black smokers,” but rather non-active extinct systems that are now left as mineral-rich piles of gravel on the seabed.

The mapping will be carried out using an autonomous underwater vehicle, a Kongsberg Hugin AUV, which will map the seabed using a bottom-penetrating echo sounder, multibeam bathymetry, synthetic aperture sonar data, magnetometry and spontaneous potential field data.

After the data is processed on board, mineral samples will be taken from the seabed where the data indicates the presence of deposits. Sampling will be carried out using an underwater remotely operated vehicle with a depth capability of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).

Earlier studies by the Norwegian Research Council have indicated that the region could contain resources worth as much as $110 billion. Around 6.4 million tons of copper metal in addition to zinc (6.5 million tons), gold (170 tons) and silver (9,901 tons) have been estimated to be present in the region. 

Rising demand for minerals and metals, including for use in new technology, has sparked renewed interest in seabed mining. Since 2001, the International Seabed Authority has issued licenses to approximately 30 government and private organizations to explore 500,000 square miles of the deep sea outside national jurisdiction for minerals. 

This increasing interest in seafloor mining globally has drawn some criticism. Despite the term “mining,” much of the activity would involve extraction of minerals over very wide areas of the sea floor rather than digging down to any great depth, potentially leaving a vast footprint on the deep-sea habitats in which these mineral deposits occur. Earlier this year, a study by the University of Exeter and Greenpeace warned that mining on the ocean floor could do irreversible damage to deep sea ecosystems. The deep sea (depths below 200m) covers about half of the Earth’s surface and is home to a vast range of species. Little is known about these environments, and the researchers say mining could have “long-lasting and unforeseen consequences” not just at mining sites but also across much larger areas. 

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