Mr Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Group has calculated a maiden resource estimate for the Beutong deposit in Indonesia’s Aceh province that he said confirmed the region as “one of the world’s more exciting copper-gold fields”.
“The discovery of these sorts of orebodies these days are bloody few and far between,” Mr Hegarty told The Australian from Indonesia.
Work at the project has identified a 505 million tonne resource grading 0.47 per cent copper. The deposit also contains gold, silver and molybdenum mineralisation, and has a higher grade core of 153 million tonnes at 0.63 per cent copper.
Mr Hegarty, who founded mining house Oxiana, said the maiden resource was comparable to the early days of the Bougainville deposit in Papua New Guinea. Beutong, he said, was substantially larger, albeit lower grade, than the Sepon copper-gold deposit that underpinned Oxiana and the Prominent Hill copper-gold deposit now mined by OZ Minerals.
The Beutong deposit outcrops at the surface and would be suitable for mining via open pit. Tigers Realm has yet to find limits of the deposit to the east, west and at depth.
“Our first resource is north of half a billion tonnes. That’s not bad,” Mr Hegarty said.
“And it’s open in all directions, so that means it’s not only of great interest to us but will be of great interest to the bigger guys. When somebody punches out a first resource of that size and quality, the big guys will be taking more than a passing interest.”
Tigers Realm is earning an 80 per cent interest in Beutong, and is carrying out a scoping study into the economics of a mine at the project. The group had secured enough funding to take work at the discover well into next year, Mr Hegarty said.
The exploration success in Aceh comes as another of Mr Hegarty’s ventures, Hong Kong-listed gold miner G Resources, struggles with a stalemate over the Martabe goldmine in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra.
G Resources last week said it was forced to suspend commissioning of the $US900 million Martabe mine after local authorities objected to a pipeline that would discharge what the company said was clean water into a nearby river system.
The pipeline previously had won all required approvals.
Mr Hegarty said he stood by Indonesia despite the complications at Martabe, which he hoped could be resolved soon.
“Indonesia comes under a little bit of shade every now and then, a cloud passes over occasionally,” he said.
“But, generally speaking, Indonesia is a great place to be, it’s highly prospective, it’s got a great mining industry, a great bureaucracy, and they get it in terms of the value resources development can add to the community and the country at large.”