This Panther is going global
“…Panther has been busy this year preparing for and launching drilling campaigns in both Canada and Australia…”
With drilling programmes underway and consolidation of its Australian assets into a new ASX-listed subsidiary, Panther Metals plc (LON:PALM) is seeking to maintain the momentum it has established over the past two years.
Panther was one of the best performing small cap mining stocks last year. After moving from the NEX Exchange (since renamed the Aquis Stock Exchange) to the LSE Main Market last January, the company’s share price soared through 2020, rising from 2p in March to over 16p by year end as it assembled a set of promising assets in Western Australia and Canada, and developed strategies for their exploration.
Panther’s developing portfolio
Panther seeks to acquire licences offering access to the orogenic systems in Archaean and Paleoproterozoic geological settings from which most of the world’s gold is mined, although its assets are also prospective for copper, nickel and PGM metals. The company is led by CEO Darren Hazelwood, who accumulated extensive experience in the natural resource sector as a private investor before becoming a mining entrepreneur himself. Chairman Kerim Sener has participated in ventures including the discovery of more than 3.8 Moz of gold in Eastern Europe and the development of Ariana Resources’ active gold mine in Turkey, and COO Mitchell Smith is also CEO of Canadian-listed Global Energy Metals Corp.
On joining the LSE Panther had two prospects in Western Australia, the Marrakai and Annaburroo Gold Projects, covering a total area of 160km2 some 70km to the southeast of Darwin, in the region’s Northern Territory. The projects are situated within the Palaeoproterozoic Pine Creek Orogen, which hosts over 250 gold occurrences and several operating gold mines, including the Rustlers Roost deposit containing 51Mt @ 1.0 g/t Au (1.6Moz). Marrakai and Annaburroo contain several gold prospects at Donkey Hill, Johns Reef, Chins Gully and Jasons Rise, some of which have yielded gold nuggets up to 30oz in weight, and high-grade gold samples in the 30-60 g/t Au range.
After IPO Panther went on to acquire the Merolia Gold Project, its first post-discovery opportunity in the region, a 145km2 tenement package close to the prolific Granny Smith, Sunrise Dam and Wallaby gold mines, which together have produced nearly 20Moz gold. The region’s Archaean greenstone belts are particularly prospective for gold and nickel mineralisation. The Project hosts a series of gold prospects, notably Burtville East, Comet Well and Ironstone, and the Red Flag Project, where previous exploration has identified a WNW-trending gold anomalous zone coinciding with a distinct magnetic low. Merolia is also prospective for nickel-cobalt sulphide mineralisation: a JORC Exploration Target has provided a tonnage range of 30-50Mt at 0.6 to 0.8pc nickel and 400 to 600ppm cobalt.
On going public Panther also had a significant Canadian asset, the Big Bear Gold Project in Ontario, expanded last summer through the acquisition of the Dotted Lake Property, comprising 174 contiguous claims located approximately 18km north-northeast of the Hemlo mine owned by Barrick Gold, which has produced more than 22Moz of gold over the past 30 years. Located on the northern limb of the Schreiber-Hemlo Greenstone belt, Dotted Lake covers 7km of the prospective geological contact between the Dotted Lake Batholith plutonic intrusive and mafic volcanic and metavolcanic ‘greenstone’ rocks.
This summer Panther significantly extended the company’s Canadian portfolio by taking a near exclusive exploration holding over the Obonga Greenstone Belt, also in the Thunder Bay region, prospective for gold, copper, lead, zinc, silver, and PGM deposits. The licence was on the cusp of exploration by mining major BHP some 30 years ago before being abandoned in the wake of the 1990s ‘Windy Craggy’ dispute over the site’s heritage status. The Obonga Project covers a total area of around 235km2 and covers 88pc of the Obonga Greenstone Belt, a 32km by 9km wide tract of Archean age metamorphosed volcanic, sedimentary and intrusive rocks where seven targets had been identified for gold, nickel, PGM and base metals.
Drilling campaigns and an IPO
Panther has been busy this year preparing for and launching drilling campaigns in both Canada and Australia.
An airborne geophysics survey over Dotted Lake in February identified 138 geophysical anomalies, and after further investigation of high priority targets a diamond drilling programme to test intrusive contact shear-zone hosted gold mineralisation got underway in September. Drilling consisted of a single NQ core diameter hole at a depth of 400 metres targeting a 147 metre long historical trench, which is currently being assayed. Last month Panther announced that analysis of Dotted Lake soil assay data sampled during the summer had delineated a 1.3km long shear-related gold anomaly, and a further four distinct gold anomalies associated with interpreted intrusive contacts or other structural features. A work programme is being planned to follow-up on these new findings.
In October Panther commenced diamond drilling on the Obonga Project’s Wishbone volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) prospect, ‘a strong electromagnetic geophysical anomaly’ that could be indicative of copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold. Wishbone is situated in a similar geological environment to the nearby Sturgeon Lake area, which hosted five commercially viable VMS mining operations that produced from the 1970s to the 1990s. Last month Panther signed a CAN$200,000 purchase option agreement for four additional multicell mining claims at Obonga.
In Australia, Panther has defined a JORC Exploration Target for nickel and cobalt at the Coglia Project on the southernmost area encompassed by the Merolia project tenements, which provides a tonnage range of 30 to 50Mt at 0.6 to 0.8pc nickel and 400 to 600ppm cobalt. The mineralisation is developed along a lateritic horizon lying above largely ultramafic host rocks which are themselves mineralised with sulphides in places. Panther expects drilling at Coglia, set to begin ‘imminently’, to allow it to define at least an Inferred JORC Resource.
The company’s most significant news this year regarding its Australian assets was its decision, announced in the spring, to list the company’s Australian operations as Panther Metals Ltd – to be referred to for everyday purposes as ‘Panther Australia’ – on the Australian Securities Exchange (the ASX), a move designed to more clearly distinguish the company’s Australian and Canadian operations with a view to improving organisational efficiency, and allowing investors to channel their investments more precisely.
Panther Metals plc – the parent company – continues to hold a material position in its Australian subsidiary, holding 54,625,001 (undiluted) shares in issue following the IPO, equivalent to a 36.6pc stake. The listing, which went ahead on 10 December, raised A$5m, capitalising the subsidiary at A$10.9m. Panther Australia’s exploration programmes will be supported by a consultancy agreement with Ariana Resources Plc (AIM:AAU), which will provide design, implementation and interpretation guidance in return for 1.25 million shares worth A$250,000.
Panther undertook a £630,000 fundraise in September in support of its Dotted Lake and Obonga drill programmes. The raise followed placings through 2020 that brought in £1.37m. The company’s most recent interims reported an unaudited loss for the six months ended 30 June 2021 of £97,559 (six months ended 30 June 2020 – loss £378,466), and cash of £275,021.
As CEO Darren Hazelwood said in an interview with TMS in August Panther is keen to avoid the classic natural resources small cap trap of undercapitalisation and over extension. The company is seeking to calibrate its risk/reward profile through the careful accumulation of promising assets likely to yield near term revenue generating discoveries.
As a small cap start-up the company has been and will continue to be dependent for the time being on placings to sustain momentum, opening the share price to periodic dilution. But though the value of Panther’s stock has subsided somewhat this year, dipping from a high of 17p in February to around 13p at the time of writing, its overall vector since IPO has been upwards. The company is engaged in a set of promising campaigns, and the ASX listing of its Australian subsidiary opens opportunities for funding substantive exploration of its Marrakai, Annaburroo and Merolia prospects. We’ve picked out Panther as one of the more promising natural resources small caps in several articles and podcasts this year, and we continue to highlight the company as one to watch in 2022.