Alaskan gold explorer Nova Minerals (ASX: NVA) has again highlighted its forward thinking with an investment in a US-based drone and ultra-light aircraft developer.
With its flagship Estelle gold project located in a remote area in Alaska, Nova decided to take a 9.9% stake in Rotor X Aircraft and its fully electric DRAGON eVTOL ultralight personal aircraft (PAV).
That decision is already looking set to pay off in both financial and operational rewards for the company with the Rotor X, in partnership with US defense contractor Advanced Tactics, having now flown hundreds of unmanned test flights of the eVTOL DRAGON.
The next big step will be the commencement of manned flights, with commercial delivery of the PAV beginning in September 2023.
Plenty of future opportunities
Nova chief executive officer, Christopher Gerteisen, said the investment in Rotor X has plenty of upside.
“With our core focus being the development of the Estelle Gold Project in Alaska, we are always looking for innovations and efficiencies to save costs both now and in the future,” he said.
“Drones are becoming part of our everyday life more and more and for mining particularly they already provide an opportunity to remotely control many mining activities including, gathering enhanced data and real time performance metrics, providing rapid visual access and performing surveys.”
“However, the drones being developed by Rotor X take this a step further and are designed to transport heavy payloads such as tools, fuel, core samples, drills and equipment remotely around the mine site from one area to another very quickly and much cheaper compared to expensive helicopters – that’s a game changer!”
Mr Gerteisen added that said Nova was able to make its investment in RotorX via a small loan which has now mostly been repaid.
The DRAGON eVTOL will be sold as a quick build kit set and will not require a pilot’s license in the US to use.
The aircraft has 8 electric motors and can reach speeds of over 60 mph, with a passenger weight of up to 250 lbs and has a flight time of around 20 minutes, with batteries being able to be easily swapped out and re-charged in less than 2 hours.
The unmanned flight sector is firming up with companies such as Joby Aviation boasting a US$4.79b market cap. Highlighting the expected continued growth in the space.
Drilling underway at Estelle
Back at its main game, Nova is making strong progress with a maiden drill program in the Train area of the Estelle gold district.
Up to 12 diamond holes are expected to be drilled into prospective targets with the aim to develop an inferred resource in the area this year.
The drilling is targeting never before drill tested gold structures and mineralised zones which were the source of high-grade rock chip samples collected along a 1.5 km gold trend gathered earlier this year.
With the release of the inferred resource rapidly approaching and pre-feasibility studies underway, Nova is becoming even more active at Estelle and intends to operate 3 diamond rigs in the field. The drill rigs will be in operation 24 hours a day on rotation, 7 days a week.
New 3D interactive model
For those who would like a close-up view of what is happening at Estelle, Nova has created a brilliant 3D interactive model and 360 degree photo site tour of the project.
The Estelle gold project contains multiple resource centres across a 35km long mineralised corridor of over 20 identified gold prospects, including two already defined multi-million ounce resources across 4 deposits containing a combined 9.9Moz gold.
The 3D interactive model is hosted using the Vrify Technology Platform and includes details of the Estelle Gold Project’s location, topography, drilling, pit designs, resource models, surface geological samples and the proposed processing plant and infrastructure as detailed in the Scoping Study released earlier this year.
Both the 3D interactive model and 360 degree photo site tour can be accessed through the home page, and smaller decks on other pages, on the company’s website