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  • Veronica Lind

South Australia’s got another Gawler Craton crawler looking to prove up some moly

Barry FitzGerald, True Width talks with Shane Tomlinson, exploration manager of Taiton Resources (ASX:T88) .

Barry Fitzgerald reckons there’s some meat to the bones of this REE explorer’s foray into South Australia, not least because mining wizard Shane Tomlinson is heading up exploration.

Taiton Resources is about to kick off a highly-anticipated drilling program at its large-scale Merino molybdenum prospect in South Australia’s Gawler Craton.

Success at Merino could be a game changer, both for recently listed Taiton Resources (ASX:T88) and the broader exploration industry, as it would open up a new frontier in a barely touched-on part of the Gawler Craton.

Results from a recent induced polarisation (IP) geophysical survey have added another layer of understanding to the Merino prospect, reinforcing Taiton’s target modelling that it is on to a climax-type molybdenum porphyry system.

Taiton exploration manager Shane Tomlinson said that while the potential 3.8km x 2 km mineralised system at Merino is the headliner for that style of mineralisation on the company’s Gawler tenements, success there would light up more targets to run the concept across.

There is no surprise then that when the drilling program begins Tomlinson – a geologist with 25 years in the industry – will be on-site at the project as part of Taiton’s broader Highway project, 185km north of Port Augusta and crossed by the Stuart Highway.

“Whenever you are working on a new style of mineralisation involving new concepts and models, it is really interesting stuff. So when we get out there and we are ready to drill, I will be there day one,’’ Tomlinson explained.

First steps

Born and raised in Perth, Tomlinson went to the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) in Kalgoorlie in the early 1990s, a period noted for the number of current industry luminaries it produced.

There was no family background drawing Tomlinson into the industry.

“I had an interest in chemistry and pharmacy but, at a school career day one time, there was lots of talk about geology and geochemistry, so I put that down as one of my selections, and that was what ended up being offered to me,” he remembered.

“So I went to Kalgoorlie to do something different and to get out of Perth. It was pretty good too. I was playing footy up there and doing all sorts of stuff. I did some vacation work in the first year and got paid pretty well, which helped in making a decision to stick with mining.

“Once I graduated, my first 10 years were basically in gold mining, open-cut and underground in WA, and lead-zinc up in the state’s Kimberley region.

“The reason I stayed with mining was to help with exploration down the track. If you understand what a mine is all about it will help you when you are doing exploration.

“After that initial 10 years, I went to Guinea in Africa. I was there for about three and a half years doing gold exploration/resource drilling at a 50,000oz per annum heap leach that was looking to become a 250,000-300,000 CIP project.’’

“I added more than 1moz to the resource base through drill programs.”

After his African adventure, during which he picked up a good grasp of “African French,” Tomlinson returned to Perth to work for Atlas Iron during the high-growth era under David Flanagan and Ken Brinsden, also WASM graduates in the early 1990s.

Tomlinson worked on exploration/resource definition at the Mt Webber iron ore project in the Pilbara for Atlas and after a couple of years, he left to take on his first exploration manager role for a junior iron ore explorer that was looking to float on the ASX.

“But their ground was pretty thin so instead I put together some stuff and went back to Africa for 18 months or so, this time in Liberia.’’

“We had the Chinese on the eastern side and the Indians on the western side. The premise was to try to get up some resources and get them into a bidding war. It was all going well until the iron ore price collapsed, and that was the end of that!’’

And then…

“So I came back to Perth in 2010/11 and started work on putting a float together with some other guys but commodity prices were pretty tough and it was a struggle to get it over the line,’’ Tomlinson recounts.

“I then went into consulting while I was doing a master’s on ore deposits. When the market is a little bit subdued that’s what you do – go and do a bit of study.

“The other thing at the time was I was starting a family (he is married to Anne Tomlinson, managing director of Southern Geoscience Consulting).

“There was a period of four years or so when I was just focused on doing consulting work which led into some work with Mineral Resources.’’

“I was working on a graphite project in the Kimberley and contracted to finish a feasibility study which needed more drilling and resource modelling. They decided not to proceed in the end.’’

Tomlinson then moved on to an exploration position with Southern Cross/Sandstone gold explorer Aurumin, and is still involved with the company, although most of his time is spent with Taiton’s molybdenum hunt in South Australia and advancing its Challenger West gold project in the Gawler; and to top it off, the Lake Barlee gold project in WA.


About Taiton Resources Limited

Taiton Resources Limited is a mineral exploration company focussed on projects in Western Australia and South Australia.

ABN 41 062 284 084 ACN 062 284 084

The Company's projects

(a) Highway Project, located in South Australia,

(b) Lake Barlee Project, located in Western Australia; and

(c) Challenger West Project, located in South Australia;

The projects have a range of exploration activities planned. The company will be undergoing a series of grassroots exploration and also several walk-up drilling targets.

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t: +61 3 8648 6431

f: +61 3 8648 6480

REGISTERED OFFICE: Level 13, 200 Queen St, Melbourne, VIC 3000


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