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Great Western raises capital for refinery and copper exploration

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Great Western Mining Corporation AIM:GWMO, published an operational update this week, stating that the team is on-site in Nevada ready to start the 2023 drilling programme.

As previously reported, Great Western planned to be quick into production and revenue generation by initially exploiting its inventory of spoil heaps, tailings and old mine workings on the properties it owns.

And as reported, the AIM-listed miner also entered a joint venture with a local partner, Tipton Trucking to form Western Milling LLC, a precious metal refining business that would refine the gold and other metals from its tenements and those of other small miners in the region. The JV emerged after, according to the company’s executive chairman, Brian Hall, a successful ‘backyard metallurgy’  trial using salvaged equipment to produce a silver bar from the company’s spoil heaps.

Bullion producer

Hall said: ““We wanted to do something to take the company in a different direction…Not just being an explorer, living on shareholders’ funds, but becoming a [bullion] producer.”

In September, Great Western updated the market as to that summer’s exploration drilling, at its flagship OMCO mine in the Olympic Gold Project. Results from sampling fell in the range 0.219 – 1.113g/t and overall OMCO in situ gold intercepts were greater than 0.10g/t across the range.

At the time Hall said: “This is a very exciting result which will enable us to home in on the potential of the asset.  In parallel we have drilled and are evaluating tailings and previously mined material for our processing joint venture and have commissioned an independent UK firm of consultants to report on these.”

The company published a mineral resource update in November 2022, reporting an inferred resource estimate of 31,000 tonnes (T), which had a grading of 1.6g/T of gold and in the tailings at the Olympic Mine 3g/T. The exploration project at Olympic Mine tailing has a target of 3,400T to 6,400T with a grading of 0.5g/T to 1.2g/T gold in the substrate below the tailings, a target of 9,000T to 12,000T with a grading of 0.9g/T to 2.4g/T and 2g/T and 5.1g/T of gold in the coarse stockpiles at Olympic Mine.

The company said that at the Mineral Jackpot project, it had an exploration target of 4,200T to 7,700T with a grading of 40g/T and 140g/T and 0.3g/T of gold in the spoil heaps adjacent to the mineworks.

Share placement

In the New Year Great Western completed a GBP800,000 placement of 1 billion new shares at 0.08p each and said it will use the proceeds to accelerate the construction of the Western Milling refinery, to bolster its exploration budget and expediate the appraisal of its gold and silver prospects.

Groundworks have already been completed for the refinery and the company has construction crews at the ready to pour concrete, an operation that has been hampered by unexpected bad weather. Apart from waiting for winter to recede, all permitting and permissions have been secured for the refinery.


The management team backed themselves, with three of its directors taking part in the placement, and Hall increasing his shareholding to 172.5 million shares, a 3.77% stake in the company. At the time Hall said: “These funds will […] accelerate the next phase of exploration, including the drilling of pre-permitted shallow follow-up holes at Mineral Jackpot and for further work at the OMCO Mine to appraise significant intercepts encountered in 2022”.

The miner has subsequently expanded its team, hiring an on-site geologist from the US who will remain in-situ on the company’s tenements in Mineral County. The first phase of drilling will be at OMCO in the next month – weather permitting.

Although Great Western has been going for gold, it also owns various silver and copper concessions. With the transition to net zero, copper has become an increasingly important metal as developed economies move from hydrocarbon-based to electric-powered transportation. The requirement rapidly build-out an electric charging infrastructure has meant copper has become an increasingly strategic material.

Copper-bottomed

The Nevada-headquartered miner is now pushing its copper business up the priority list, and staring exploration in its M2 Black Mountain claim, where a 2018 JORC-compliant reported assessed the claim has 4.28 million tonnes at a 0.45% grade in-situ. Although a large deposit, it is not commercially-viable. However, the report also said that there was 300 metre deposit that was under-explored, which Great Western believes could yield a further 1 million to 3 million tonnes. Moreover, the whole concession is 163Ha, yet the JORC report only covered 33Ha, meaning that there is another 130Ha to explore which given the geology of the surveyed area, could also yield an addition 9 million to 14 million tonnes.

The company is planning a return to M2 for additional exploration work, with a maximum potential resource of 21.3 million tonnes of copper. If the M2 resource is as good as Great Western hopes, it could be a game-changer for the company.

Great Western has been on AIM since August 2011 and opened trading today at 0.1p, has offered a year-to-date return of -19.2%, a one-year return of -25.1% and its shares have ranged between 0.08p and 0.85p over a 52-week period giving the company a market capitalisation of GBP4.6m.

The current share price belies Great Western’s long-term value. After all, this is a mining company that says is going to be pouring bullion this year, and most of its existing silver and gold explored deposits are at-surface, or near-surface, so it doesn’t have the expense and time of constructing significant mineworks. Admittedly the placement earlier this year has diluted the shareholding, however given the prioritisation of the refinery, the company can expect a quick return on capital deployed.

Moreover, the potential of the M2 copper deposit in the Black Mountains, given that only a fraction of its concession has been properly explored can change the whole aspect of the company. Presumably in the first gold (and silver) rush in Nevada where the original works were done by pick and shovel with the support of a tired mule and a stick with painted marks on it, copper was overlooked as the ‘Miner 49-ers’ prioritised delving for gold and silver, as after all copper was only worth ‘a few coppers’. Much has changed, and we still rate Great Western Mining Corporation as ‘one to watch’.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Make sure you do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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