Alto Is Jumbled With The Question Whether To Explore Or Develop

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Alto Metals directors zeroed down on the explore option recently which settled the scene for some interesting corporate developments in the new year. For the past 100 years, Gold is the target of Alto (ASX: AME) as it has been for every explorer working in the Sandstone region of central WA.

Securing most of the ground around the historic mining center, Alto took on the Sandstone challenge in early 2016 in a process which change its name from Enterprise Uranium and also saw it drop uranium exploration assets. Located 600 km north-east of Perth, making sense of the geology around Sandstone has not been easy. 

Because the tiny town is surrounded by some of Australia’s biggest goldmines, the ground has generally given up relatively small pods of high-grade gold which can be a frustration. Despite a century of production, Sandstone, can only lay claim to around one million ounces.

It could hit the 500,000oz mark sometime in the next 6-to-12 months, if Alto’s recent rate of discovery continues. Alto has 261,000oz in a number of old and new deposits, as the resource base currently stands which is theoretically enough for a deal to be struck with a neighboring mine, Middle Island Resources, with an ore treatment deal potentially being the start of a much closer relationship, which owns a processing plant.

No Merger talks:

The conversation with Alto’s chief executive Dermot Ryan turned into a no-go zone with a polite, ‘no comment’, when asked questions about a possible merger. Ryan said, “to expand the resource base to a target of 500,000 oz, the big issue in front of Alto today”. They can’t talk seriously about mining while they’re very much focused on exploration and that is the key for them.

With some preferring a fast start on production, that might not have been the case for all board members another no-go topic which causes Ryan to again put up the shutters. Alto does have its foot on the share of a geological structure known as the Sandstone Greenstone Belt, which is the more important points about the company, Greenstone is the primary source of gold in WA.

With a treatment plant and a shortage of gold for processing, Middle Island, the other owner of interest in the Sandstone region is the neighbor. Alto is a work-in-progress for investors, but one with excellent corporate connections at board level that include the well-heeled mineral chemist the highly-successful, Terry Wheeler and Terry Streeter the chairman, who’s claim to fame, is a fortune made as a big shareholder in Jubilee Mines and Western Areas a pair of nickel stocks.

It was seen as a sign that the company was getting ready to go mining when Streeter joined the Alto board earlier this year. Doing what earlier owners had done by developing (and re-developing) a series of small pods of gold.

As the company steps up its search to find something more substantial, that plan appears to be waning real possibility if the latest exploration news is a guide, from the relatively shallow depth of 60m in the Vanguard target including a drill intersection of 40 meters assaying 3.5 grams of gold a ton.


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