JOINT venture partners Aurum Inc and Argonaut Resources are seeking to renew the exploration permit for the Century gold concession in western Laos, next to the Mekong River and Thai border. The permit expired during the 2013 financial year and the JV is going through the renewal process with the Laos Government.
Century is about150km northwest of the capital city Vientiane on the highly prospective Loei-Luang Prabang fold belt, a prominent, regionally mineralized belt, which stretches from Thailand in the south to Laos in the north, and hosts Kingsgate’s Chatree gold mine in Thailand and PanAust’s two operations, the Phu Bia gold/copper mine and Ban Houayxai gold mine in Laos to the north.
In January 2011 Aurum announced that it had entered into an agreement with Argonaut to earn a 51% interest in Argonaut’s 70% held Century concession. The agreement appoints Aurum as manager of the Century Thrust Joint Venture Agreement. To acquire this interest, Aurum is required to spend US$6.5 million on exploration within five years.
On February 10, 2011, Aurum entered into an agreement with the shareholders of the Lao Inter Mining Options (LIMO) which granted it an option to purchase LIMO’s 20% interest in the JV. The agreement entitled Aurum to acquire, at its option, a 71% beneficial interest in the concession. However, the company did not exercise the option due to delays in acquiring assay results and the time required to adequately assess the program.
Aurum has prioritized exploration efforts on the Century prospects of Nam Hone followed by Khohke, Ang Noi and Houay Khouay. The area is host to numerous prospect areas and styles of gold mineralization.
During 2013, interpretation and assessment of all previous results enabled planning of further exploration programs for the current dry season, depending on the permit renewal. The program is proposed to consist of drilling of the priority targets at the Nam Hone main zone with the aim to test the current structural model that is believed to be controlling the known gold mineralization.
There are very strong surface-gold expressions across the concession area and systematic testing of prioritized targets is being progressively undertaken by Aurum under the agreement.
Argonaut also holds a 65% interest in the Xekong concession in southern Laos near the Vietnamese border. The concession area hosts ‘Carlin style’ replacement gold mineralization, similar to that found at MMG’s Sepon gold mine, 150km north of Xekong.
Exploration has focused on the Ban Klong and Ban Bak Central prospects within the broader Ban Bak area. Drilling has returned a mixture of high grade and low grade intercepts.