Investigator Resources Ltd. is an Australian exploration company focused on the advancement of its Paris Silver project located in South Australia. The project holds a mineral resource estimate of 53.1 million ounces of silver and 97.6 kt of lead. The Apollo prospect of the project has also previously shown rare earth elements (REE) mineralisation.
The company announced on the 24th of November 2022 that it had entered into an earn-in joint venture with Thor Mining PLC to acquire up to 80% of the Advanced Molyhil Tungsten project. The project is located in the Northern Territory of Australia and hosts a mineral resource estimate of 11,800 tons of Tungsten trioxide (WO3) and 4,400 tons of molybdenum (Mo). The initial fieldwork at the project is planned to commence in Q1 2023.
Investigator Resources Ltd. on the 14th of December 2022, announced that it had received firm commitments from various investors including its major shareholder, Jupiter Asset Management, to raise AUD$ 4.2 million through a share placement. The share placement consists of the issuing of 100 million shares of the company at AUD$ 0.042 per share.
The raised funds will be implemented towards the completion of development studies and exploration activities at the company’s Paris Silver project and the completion of regional exploration and initial work for the earn-in agreement of the Molyhil Tungsten project.
Investigator Resources Ltd. is underway with exploration drilling at its Paris Silver project from where it plans to conduct exploration drilling at the Apollo prospect of the project. The exploration initiatives at the project are aimed at enabling the company to publish a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the project by the end of 2023.
Paris Silver Project
The Paris Silver project of the company is a Shallow, high-grade silver deposit amenable to open-pit mining methods. The project is located approximately 70 km north of the rural township of Kimba on the South Australian Eyre Peninsula and is accessible via highways as well as sealed roads.
The project underwent an extensive infill drilling program in late 2020 which served as the basis for the publishing of a mineral resource estimate (MRE) for the project. The mineral resource estimate (MRE) of the project consists of 53 million ounces of silver, comprised of 18.8 million tons at an average grade of 88 g/t of silver. The project also holds 97.6 kilotons (kt) of lead that can be recovered and positively affect the pre-feasibility study of the project; 73% of the total mineral resource estimate is in the indicated category.
Investigator Resources Ltd. on the 14th of December 2022, announced that it had received firm commitments from various investors to raise AUD$ 4.2 million through a share placement. The share placement consists of the issuing of 100 million shares of the company at AUD$ 0.042 per share. Andrew McIlwain the Managing director of Investigator Resources Ltd. explains that the company raised the funds at a 15% discount than its last traded price, with various institutional shareholders having taken a position in the company, none-more-so than Jupiter Asset Management, the largest shareholder in the company.
“We've raised AUD$ 4.2 million at about a 15% discount to our last traded price. The placement price is AUD$ 0.042 with half an attached option, so quite an attractive raise. It was really well subscribed, in fact, it was way oversubscribed by investors. A lot of our major shareholders have come in, but importantly, our largest shareholder. Jupiter Asset Management will backstop their 15% as well, which is a great vote of confidence from the Jupiter guys.”
The raised funds will be implemented towards the completion of development studies and exploration activities at the company’s Paris Silver project, which includes a new area at the project which was previously inaccessible, due to concerns by the native community of the area. McIlwain explains the new area is significant with it holding a high likelihood of extending the project’s mineralisation.
“We've negotiated access to an extension of the Paris area. We had one end of the pit that was constrained by some traditional owner, or some Aboriginal Heritage areas. Over 3 years, we've worked with that traditional owner group to identify and understand what their concerns were. They've now recognized that there's no importance to this small area at the end of the pit, and it's given us an opportunity: we've got an extra 200 m of an 800 m resource area that we are currently drilling at the moment. It's quite an opportunity to step out.”
The expanded exploration initiatives of the project have led to the company postponing the completion of the Paris Silver project’s definitive feasibility study (DFS) in order to further incorporate the possible expanded mineralisation.
“That’s going to grow the resources for Paris, and that's one of the reasons why we've taken our foot off the gas on completing the DFS. We knew that if we could get access to this area, we could put some more ounces in the project and it would make for a more viable project.”
McIlwain explains that by delaying the DFS, Investigator Resources Ltd. has the opportunity to increase the attractiveness of the Paris Silver project and as such increase the project’s likelihood of entering production.
“It was a genuine attempt to scale it. We had to balance the importance of this area whilst we were negotiating its release. To be quite honest, we were very humbled by the approach from the traditional owners, and it didn't cost us anything to get this area released. They have put us on notice, they're coming later when we want to go into production, but what it shows is that they recognize that if we can grow the project, it's got a greater chance of moving forward.”
Molyhil Tungsten project
Investigator Resources Ltd. announced in November 2022 that it had entered into an earn-in joint venture agreement with Thor Mining PLC to acquire up to 80% of the Advanced Molyhil Tungsten project. The project is located in the Northern Territory of Australia and hosts a mineral resource estimate of 11,800 tons of Tungsten trioxide (WO3) and 4,400 tons of molybdenum (Mo). The initial fieldwork at the project is planned to commence in Q1 2023.
McIlwain explains that the project is well suited to his experience with him having been involved in the operation of a tungsten project earlier in his career. He believes that he holds the correct experience to navigate the company through the tungsten industry having experienced the common pitfalls.
“A little bit of my background is that I operated a tungsten project in Spain for a couple of years. I understand the market and understand off-take agreements and where the value can be added or destroyed. I also have 15 years of experience operating in the Northern Territories.”
McIlwain explains that a part of the funds raised by Investigator Resources Ltd. will be spent advancing the newly acquired Molyhil Tungsten project, resulting in the company earning a 25% stake therein.
“We jumped onto this project. It's been around for a while. It's been unloved. The company that had it didn't have enough money to take it forward. They had previously completed a DFS, but we think it needs a bit of a polish-up, and that's what we'll do in our first earn-in stages, spend AUD$ 1 million over 18 months earning 25% interest in this project and then re-present the DFS.”
Inflation and getting into production
The inflationary pressure faced by the majority of junior mining companies has also affected Investigator Resources Ltd. according to McIlwain. The costs associated with construction and operation have increased and have led to the company investigating alternatives such as renewable energy sources instead of traditional generators.
“The cost of steel, fuel and labour has increased. Ironically, we have been able to attract people, and I'm not talking about 100 people, but 10 people, at reasonable rates, not something that's 50% higher than what's a year ago. We don't think labour is going to be a major issue for us. One of the things that we left unanswered in the PFS is the contribution from renewables as opposed to just plain diesel-fired power generation, so there's a bit of finessing going forward there.”
McIlwain notes that the envisioned production rate of the Paris Silver project as shown in the project’s pre-feasibility study is also a point that it is investigating. The production rate may be down-sized, which will lessen the capital requirements of the project and increase the life of mine.
“There is a smaller, scaled-down, less than a 1 Mt option, but that also means we've got to deal with some other fixed capital costs, which are road construction, etc, but we do have an opportunity to do that. The other thing is, if we can slow it down, it ends up with a greater than a 10-year mine life, and financiers love that, as opposed to a 6 to 7-year mine life.”
The company also plans to further the metallurgical test work conducted on the Paris Silver project, which may then be incorporated into future economic studies. The recently raised funds will, according to McIlwain be implemented towards refining the extraction methods to be used for lead, a valuable by-product at the Paris Silver project.
“This inflow of money allows us to continue and complete the next met test work, which is about an AUD$ 500,000 program to identify the most appropriate route to recover the lead that's in the resource. There's about AUD$ 300 million worth of lead in the Paris resource, and in our PFS, we attribute no revenue from that. AUD$ 500,000 of met test work to identify what we can get out of AUD$ 300 million worth of lead.”
Investigator Resources Ltd. is underway with exploration drilling at its Paris Silver project from where it plans to conduct exploration drilling at the Apollo prospect of the project.
“We got our best silver intersection outside the Paris resource, which we got back in March 2022, so we'll step back out as soon as we're finished drilling the Paris extension in January. We will then step out to Apollo and start chasing that silver intersection. A little bit further afield, we've got other tenements pre-feasibility and we've got 40 km of strike along similar geology. We did our first round of drilling there last January/February, and we intersected mineralization in 24 of 27 holes, which is just a spectacular hit rate for a first round of drilling.”
The exploration initiatives at the project are aimed at enabling the company to publish a definitive feasibility (DFS) study for the project by the end of 2023.
“We'll close out the DFS by the end of the year and represent CapEx and operating cost numbers, so we'll have a clear understanding as to whether this is a financeable and doable project. We wouldn't be doing that work unless we were heading down that path.”
McIlwain believes that the silver industry is set to grow in the future due to the metal’s use in electronics. The rapid advancement of electric vehicles, solar technology and the global push towards electrification will add to the metal’s allure in the future.
“I keep saying that electric vehicles, solar panels, etc, are going to consume more silver. The silver consumption now is over 1.2 billion ounces, production is about 900 million ounces, so something's going to move here soon. I think that we will see that in the gold/silver ratio, which is still sitting at about 85, not 65 where everyone thinks it should be.”