Interest in Otago mining on rise: KO Gold

RSC principal exploration geologist Sean Aldrich (left) and KO Gold chief executive Greg Isenor...
RSC principal exploration geologist Sean Aldrich (left) and KO Gold chief executive Greg Isenor discuss drill locations in Otago earlier this year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Canadian mining company with a new five-year exploration permit in Central Otago says New Zealand "is fast becoming one of the most attractive" gold-mining locations in the world.

KO Gold announced a new five-year permit for the historic Carrick Goldfield, east of Alexandra, late on Wednesday night and said wider "regional exploration" south of that site had also now begun.

The company’s announcement comes hot on the heels of Australian-listed Santana Minerals saying it had raised more than $30million to mine its major find near Tarras late last month.

KO Gold chief executive Greg Isenor, speaking yesterday from Canada’s east coast, said there was a lot of interest in Otago at present, especially with New Zealand’s "pro-industry government" in place, and vocal support for the sector from Resources Minister Shane Jones.

"Now is the time," Mr Isenor said.

"It’s basically unexplored, there are many, many indicators of gold mineralisation. The Santana discovery ... indicates the potential of the Otago gold belt."

The company was still at least a couple of months away from test drilling at Carrick, he said.

A Dunedin firm was working on obtaining access agreements with land owners, including the Department of Conservation, and mana whenua.

The 200sq km site had not been subject to modern exploration techniques, but would be drilled up to 200m deep.

He expected to have more to say on the "actual drilling plans" in two to three weeks on four drilling projects in the area the company had, including Carrick.

The Carrick site was "intriguing".

"Previous operators have said there were resources there, but the truth is at the end of the drill bit.

"You need to drill and that’s what we plan to do.

"It hasn’t been drilled deep.

"The deep drilling that we see at [Santana’s] Rise and Shine, Bendigo, shows the potential at depth."

The $3.6million budget KO Gold had for its regional exploration would allow the company to do its planned initial drilling in the region, but the company would require "much larger financing" to move beyond that.

It remained "quite a ways" from knowing whether it had something in the region, but there should be some indication before the end of the year, Mr Isenor said.

"Within a year we should have some darn good indications of our drilling," he said.