Underlying northernmost Western Australia is 600 kilometer wide piece of ancient crust called the Pilbara craton. Composed of metamorphic and igneous rocks that formed over 3.1 billion years ago, the Pilbara craton was once connected with a similarly old piece of crust underlying South Africa called the Kapvaal craton. Together, these two ancient crustal remnants formed what is thought to have been the first continent on Earth, Vaalbara.
Forming Earth's first stable platform, layers of terrestrial sedimentary and volcanic rocks were deposited and preserved across the Vaalbara continent. In South Africa, thick layers of sedimentary and volcanic rocks making up the Witwatersrand and Pongola basins were deposited between about 3.1 and 2.7 billion years ago. Similar rocks were deposited in the Hammersley Basin in Australia at about the same time. Sometime after the deposition of these sedimentary and volcanic rocks, the Vaalbara continent broke apart thus separating the Kapvaal craton from the Pilbara craton.
Approximately 1.6 billion ounces of gold (about one third of all the gold produced on Earth) have been mined from conglomerate beds (reefs) of the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa. Ancient rivers, streams and oceans, deposited these conglomerates and physical and chemical processes introduced gold into the reefs along with associated pyrite carbon and uranium. Although details of these ore-forming processes remain highly debated, most geologists think the gold reefs of the Witwatersrand are "fossil" placer deposits called paleoplacers.
Recognizing that similar gold-bearing conglomerates occur in the Fortesque Group (FG) of Australia, prospector Mark Creasy secured tenements covering vast parts of the Hammersley Basin including the Beatons Creek area near the town of Nullagine and the Marble Bar sub-basin near the town Marble Bar. Historic mines dating back to the late 1800's at these two locations exploited gold-bearing reefs, some occurring at the basal unconformity of the FG and others within the Hardey Sandstone Formation situated higher in the FG.
Preliminary exploration conducted at Beatons Creek and Marble Bar by geologists with Novo Resources produced indications that gold-bearing conglomerates at both locations are similar to their South African counterparts. Based on these encouraging findings, Novo entered into a joint venture with Millennium Minerals on three mining leases covering approximately 10 square kilometers at Beatons Creek in July, 2011. An additional joint venture was formed with the Creasy Group covering approximately 1,800 square kilometers within 32 exploration tenements at Beatons Creek and Marble Bar. Novo plans to undertake aggressive exploration including drilling in both areas to explore for gold-bearing reefs.