A VETERAN prospector is taking the next bold steps towards mining what he believes to be a multi-billion dollar seam of gold just a few kilometres from the original Gold Rush fields north of Bathurst.
Grasmont Mining executive chairman Ian Morwood has taken out exploration licences covering around 150 square kilometres of unexplored territory known as the Western Flank near Hill End.
He first came across the target site in 2010 when he was struck by the sight of a bare stretch of land in the middle of dense bushland - a sign, he said, of gold sulphides and copper sulphides coming up through the soil.
Mr Morwood said initial sampling had produced positive results and now he is seeking capital to fund the next stage of the project, including drilling exploration and building roads into the bushland site.
Mr Morwood had hoped to raise $300 million through an initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Stock Exchange to fund the test drilling, but market uncertainty due to the coronavirus has seen him shelve that plan for now.
Instead, Mr Morwood will approach the state and federal government for initial support through regional stimulus programs before presenting his draft prospectus to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for approval later in the year.
"Drilling exploration will be expensive but, I tell you what, the prize at the end will make it worthwhile," he said.
"I believe what we have out there is as big as Cadia.
"We will be looking to kick-start the IPO again in six months but in the meantime there's a lot that can be done at Hill End.
"I will speak to the state and federal government because they both have programs to promote regional economic stimulus so it will be a matter of working out which programs might fit best."
The draft prospectus Mr Mr Morwood plans to take to ASIC calls the western area of the Hill End Goldfields "an unexplored province, with extraordinary gold and copper potential".
"With ... extraordinary surface indicators of gold and copper being present - on a historical goldfield - intensive and expensive diamond drilling at depths of 1000-1500 metres is clearly the best and only option to prove up this potential gold and copper resource," the draft prospectus states.
Mr Morwood believes a rich gold seam remains intact at Hill End because Gold Rush prospectors were allowed to mine only alluvial gold and not the host gold reefs.
"Incredibly, it's just been sitting there ever since," he said.
Mr Morwood has a family history in gold mining.
"My great grandfather came out in 1853 to the Bendigo goldfields and my grandfather was born on the Argyle goldfields so I grew up with those stories," he said.
"When I retired I decided to visit some of those goldfields and that's how I ended up in Hill End."
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