Alba owns a 90% interest in an exclusive exploration licence over the Dolgellau Gold Belt in north Wales, covering a total area of 107 km² and over 300 known gold occurrences. The Project includes the historic Clogau-St David’s gold mine, which produced at least 80,000 ounces of gold, making it the UK’s largest ever gold producer. The mine closed in 1998, when the gold price was only $300 per ounce, compared to its present price close to $2000 per ounce.
The geological setting for the gold at Clogau-St David’s is a combination of intrusive greenstones and shear zones dominated by inter-mixed Clogau shales and quartz veins. Historically, the gold has been found in exceptionally high-grade pockets within these quartz veins, with bonanza grades running from the tens to the hundreds of ounces of gold per tonne.
Alba believes there is excellent potential to find unexploited gold veins and is rolling out the most significant surface and underground exploration and development programme seen at Clogau-St David’s in many decades.
In late 2019, Alba drilled a target within the historic Llechfraith mine area. This short drilling campaign successfully intersected shear zone-hosted quartz veins, the known geological setting for all historic gold mining at Clogau, and did so up to 25 metres below the lowest known mined areas, thus confirming the continuity of the structure for at least that distance down-dip of the historic mine workings.
In September and October 2020, the Company undertook an extensive underground drilling programme on the Llechfraith level of the mine, the first time to Alba’s knowledge that diamond drilling had ever been carried out underground. Seven drill holes were completed, for over 500 metres of drilling.
At the same time, the Company undertook a significant programme of underground bulk sampling, collecting over 36 tonnes of material from several target zones. This material will be processed for its gold content and the results from the underground drilling and bulk sampling will then be incorporated into the geological model to refine the gold targets for follow-up drilling and sampling.
A Phase 1 surface drilling programme has been completed, targeting a zone below the Llechfraith mine area. By stepping out the drilling so that the drill collar was set further away from the mine area, the drilling was designed to intersect the quartz vein at a higher, and therefore more favourable, angle to dip. This was successful, given the significant widths of quartz vein which have been intersected; for instance, LL001 intersected a total of 6.48 metres of quartz veins, LL002 a total of 3.65 metres and LL003 a total of 5.7 metres. At its deepest point, drill hole LL010 intersected the lode structure 122 metres below the existing Llechfraith mine workings, almost doubling the depth extent identified previously by LL009 (at 66 metres), with a strike extent of up to 52 metres.
Alba’s Phase 1 surface drilling has therefore confirmed the presence of a significant vein system below the deepest previously worked zone at the Llechfraith mine area. Our geological modelling indicates that the total tonnage estimation for the newly identified lode structure is between 24,000 to 27,000 tonnes in the Lower Lode alone.
Clogau-St David’s is essentially two gold projects in one, first of all the work to restart commercial production at the historic Clogau-St David’s gold mine and secondly the search for entirely new gold deposits within the wider Dolgellau Gold Belt.
Despite being an established gold-producing area, the Dolgellau Gold Belt is considered to be underexplored, with most of it yet to be subject to sustained modern exploration at a regional scale. in terms of the use of methods such as low detection limit geochemical soil sampling, close-spaced ground geophysical surveys and drilling.
Alba’s geochemical soil sampling programme has been rolled out on a regional scale, and has so far identified 10 significant gold anomalies away from the historic mine area and confirmed gold mineralisation over a six-mile section of the Dolgellau Gold Belt.
The largest new gold anomaly identified is about two kilometres long, four times longer than the length of the equivalent anomaly over the historic Clogau-St David’s Mine.
Alba has also discovered potential extensions to the existing footprint of the historic mine area, with infill sampling confirming continuity of an anomaly, Lowri, lying parallel to the Llechfraith adit and a major anomaly, Eryn, lying above historic Llechfraith workings.
The completed first phase of surface trenching over the Dolgellau Gold Field has validated our regional geological model, by uncovering multiple quartz veins in the target area identified during Alba’s extensive soil sampling programme. This included a 2.1 metre width quartz vein, comparable with the widths of the worked veins in the Clogau-St David’s Gold Mine. Follow-up work is now planned for this target, as well as trenching over some of the nine other significant gold targets in the Gold Field.
Welsh gold is gold that occurs naturally in two distinct areas of Wales and is highly prized because of its origin, heritage and scarcity. One area it is found in is north Wales, in a band stretching from Barmouth, past Dolgellau and up towards Snowdonia. This area, the Dolgellau Gold Belt, was mined at several mines, the largest of which were the Gwynfynydd Gold Mine and the Clogau Gold Mine.
Welsh gold, and particularly Clogau gold, has historically attracted a significant premium over the normal price of gold, known as the spot price.
Clogau Gold has a unique connection to the British Royal Family, having been used in the wedding bands for Royal weddings stretching back as far as The Queen Mother, then Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1923) but also Queen Elizabeth II (1947), Diana, Princess of Wales (1981), Prince Charles (1981 & 2005), Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (2011) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (2018).