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Panthera Resources has huge upside across multiple gold projects in West Africa and India

“One of our challenges is that we have so many opportunities in front of us,” says Mark Bolton, the managing director of Panthera Resources PLC (LON:PAT).

It only takes a quick glance over the company’s portfolio of assets to see what he means.

There’s the Bassala, Laboloa, Bido and Kassala gold projects in West Africa, all held either directly or through a 46.2% stake in the private Irish company Moydow Resources, as well as the Bhukia and Taregaon gold and copper-gold projects in India.

All told, the portfolio already contains over 1.7mln ounces of gold, with countless prospects across all projects crying out for further exploration work.

“There isn’t one of them that I don’t value as an investment proposition,” says Bolton. “Every one of our projects deserves to be drilled this year.”

However, time and resources being what they are, there has to be a focus, and with an ongoing dispute hampering work in India for the time being, for the time being, it’s West Africa that’s getting all the attention.

“In West Africa we have potential scale and we have identified mineralisation, either through artisanal working or through previous drilling,” continues Bolton.

“These projects now need to be drilled to see whether they will scale up.”

Fortunately the company isn’t short of funds, having just booked a chunky profit on the sale of a tin asset in Germany. That sale injected around £1.17mln in new money into the company’s coffers at the end of February, cueing it up nicely to get to work in earnest this year.

Bolton is particularly keen to highlight encouraging recent and historic exploration results at Bido in Burkina Faso, where Panthera holds licences over 80 square kilometres of ground. Previous drilling returned gold intercepts of 16 metres grading one gram per tonne, 10 metres at two grams, and 2.5 metres at eight grams.

More up-to-date soil sampling, the results of which were announced in January, has provided equally encouraging data, although there’s now an added spin.

According to Bolton, the thinking now is that previous exploration work at Bido, though it hit gold, missed the main target and hit instead a secondary vein. If that’s true, the upside at Bido could be much greater than was previously thought. Hence, of course, Bolton’s impatience to get drilling.

Not far away, at Kwadema South, there’s an enormous area of artisanal workings that until recently hadn’t been looked at in any systematic way. Panthera’s gone in and taken a serious look though, and identified the Teiekouyou target, which Bolton describes as “fabulous”.

Nearby Beredo also looks promising, and all told Bido, Kwadema South and Teiekouyou will all be the subject of investigation by the drill bit this year.

A little bit of preparation work will be needed first, in the shape of induced polarisation surveys, and this will allow Panthera to zero in on where exactly to place the rigs.

But the main point, says Bolton, is that there are so many targets.

“You have so many bites of the cherry,” he says.

Meanwhile, at Bassala in Mali, the company is sitting on a potentially huge structure not far away from Endeavour’s Kalana mine and the locally-owned Kodema mine. The Bassala structure is distinct from the Kalana one, but that may not count against it.

“We’re looking for another structure like the Kodema-Kalana structure,” explains Bolton.

Geochemistry on Bassala will be finished imminently, and thus far it’s shown two major structures intersecting, so so far so good. The presence of artisans also adds to the prospectivity, and previous RAB drilling ceased with mineralisation at the end of the hole.

Here too, induced polarisation will be first, before the drill rigs are set turning late in May.

“I like this project,” says Bolton. “It’s got scale, it’s got good geology and it’s got nearology.”

With these projects under its belt, Panthera is already looking like an attractive proposition.

But add in the West African portfolio of Moydow and the “lottery ticket” of India, as Bolton calls it, and there’s upside in all sorts of directions.

The Bhukia project in India is reckoned to contain upwards of ten million ounces of gold, and if it can get clear of the legal issues around it the uplift to Panthera would be significant. Bolton himself has much experience working in India, through his previous work as finance director for Oilex.

Will it get sorted? – well, that’s the lottery ticket that you get for free with your substantial and meaningful African exploration portfolio.

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