Asante Gold (CVE:ASE) is looking to expand its portfolio of exploration assets and take advantage of the current challenging junior market conditions, which CEO Douglas MacQuarrie sees as a "massive opportunity".
The company is also focused this year on advancing its Fahiakoba concession in Ghana, where there is currently a 1,200 auger-hole soil geochemical drill program underway, designed to outline additional drill targets.
The junior gold explorer launched its 5,000 metre maiden diamond drill program at the property in March after its IPO in February, and based on early positive drill results decided to complete additional exploration before continuing the program.
First pass results from the drilling included intersections of 0.50 metres at 289.50 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, 0.65 metres of 11.1 g/t gold and 1 metre of 7.34 g/t gold, all within a few hundred metres of surface.
But the 1,200 hole auger drilling program, with samples located 25 metres apart, is designed to better define regional geophysical targets so that the company can drill step outs on the "successful holes", and target new areas.
MacQuarrie says the auger geochemical program will run for around another month, at which point the balance of the 5,000 metre diamond drilling program will start.
Asante noted last month that results were received from 399 auger soil holes with values up to 650 parts per billion (ppb) gold, and 19 anomalous samples forming two 500 to 650 metre-long new target areas. More samples are still due in.
MacQuarrie says the concession was never drilled before, has no previous showings, with drilling done by the company so far based entirely on geophysical work.
The property's neighbour, Perseus Mining (TSE:PRU), recently started a regional exploration program on Asante's eastern boundary, exploring along two major shear zones, both of which cross through Asante's concession, its CEO says.
"Their line cutting is underway as we speak. Hopefully, they will find something spectacular on our mutual boundary," says MacQuarrie.
The Fahiakoba concession, a 22.07 square kilometre prospecting license, is located on strike with and between Perseus Mining's 4.32 million ounce Edikan Mine and AngloGold Ashanti's (NYSE:AU) 60 million ounce Obuasi mine. The northeast corner of the property rests just 14 kilometres from the AngloGold Obuasi mine, the longest producing, highest grade and largest gold resource in West Africa.
Aside from the Fahiakoba concession, Asante's priority this year is to expand its footprint, as MacQuarrie says the company is looking at potential acquisitions.
"Hopefully we will be able to expand in the next few months through acquisitions - ones with excellent exploration upside," says MacQuarrie, whose background is in geology and geophysics, adding that he "likes to find" deposits.
"Most of the easy ones in Ghana have already been found. The next new discoveries will require a bit more work, and a lot of geophysics - to look deeper," he says.
Factors that played into the purchase of Fahiakoba included the presence of major amounts of alluvial gold in a river that flows right down the middle of the property. Large alluvial dredges operated on the river from the 1920's thru the 1960's, asserts MacQuarrie.
"Gold doesn't normally travel very far from its source, and we believe it's not washed down too far along the river."
MacQuarrie sees the market right now as a perfect opportunity to acquire other properties like the one it has in Ghana.
"There are far too many small companies right now, and it is almost impossible for them to all find financing, but many of these businesses actually have good, undervalued assets.
"For those juniors that can raise funds, it creates a massive opportunity. When gold is down, and people start groaning, it is amazing what becomes available."
Asante is currently looking at several opportunities, and MacQuarrie says he is "absolutely happy" to jump when the time is right.
The company's CEO is a long-term bull on gold, and says the yellow metal is "the best game in town".
"World trade can only continue as long as there is 'good' money to settle trades. This means we must find a new world standard currency, and we believe gold will be a part of this. Gold must be revalued upwards."
"An investment in the right junior gold stock over the next five years will just be spectacular," MacQuarrie argues.
"So whether by a Black Swan event in China or Europe, or some US Treasury auction does not go well, we'll see a revaluation of gold almost overnight."
This confidence extends to Asante Gold as well, as MacQuarrie believes that somewhere down the line, the gold explorer will "bite into a significant drill hole or project", and will be able to capitalize on it when it does.
The high grades and narrow widths seen so far at Fahiakoba bode well for the project, Asante's CEO says. "In mining, grade is king' and these smaller, high grade type deposits can generally be brought into production with low capex, and can be funded entirely by equity.
"The current market is not favourable to high capex/high debt projects. There is a niche market for a new company with high grades and modest capex that targets paying a yield over time."
On the other hand, if the project turns out to be a lower grade bulk mineable type deposit, there is "fairly obvious tee up" potential, MacQuarrie concludes.
Asante, with around $1 million of cash and the ability to bring in another $1 to $2 million in warrants, is currently changing hands at around 30 cents on the TSX Venture Exchange.