ECR Minerals has started exploration drilling at its Bailieston Gold Project in the Australian state of Victoria. The company has identified three areas near the historic Byron mine as high-priority hard-rock drill targets and plans to test the prospects.

The Bailieston licence contains the Byron mine, which previously produced 4416 ounces from 8698 tonnes mined at an implied grade of 15.5 g/t. The ECR targets are close to old workings with good production figures, making them prospective targets worthy of immediate testing.

Initial reverse circulation drilling will focus on Byron and ECR wants to test extensions to the known mineralisation as well as generating additional targets for a more comprehensive program further down the line.

Bailieston is also near other large mining operations in the Central Victorian Goldfields including Fosterville, which has produced 140,000 ounces per year at a cash cost of US$461 per ounce, and Costerfield, which has an annual output of 42,000 ounces at a cash cost of US$630 per ounce.

The London-listed company is fully funded for its exploration program following two rounds of funding with Chinese investor Shenyang.

ECR’s chief executive Craig Brown said, “The board of ECR is excited to begin our exploration program in the Victorian Goldfields. Our Bailieston project in the state of Victoria, one of the world’s most prolific gold producing regions, is not only in close proximity to two significant operating gold mines but the region has a long history of producing high-grade material from underground workings.

“ECR has made significant strides forward in recent months and the board strongly believe that our Australian exploration program in this highly prospective district is the first step to really beginning to build value for shareholders,” he said.

ECR’s wholly-owned Australian subsidiary Mercator Gold Australia (MGA) previously entered into a deed of assignment and assumption with Currawong Resources for the acquisition of the Avoca and Bailieston gold projects. Avoca and Bailieston are approximately 183km west northwest and 150km north, respectively, of Melbourne.

The Victorian Goldfields has a long history of mining and one that has produced an estimated 80 million ounces since gold was first discovered in 1851.