Mt Thirsty Cobalt- Nickel Project
Mt Thirsty is Australia’s most advanced genuine cobalt project with a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) completed in 2020.
The Mt Thirsty Project is located 16km northwest of Norseman, Western Australia (Figure 1). The Project is close to all necessary infrastructure (rail, road, power, gas, water, townsite, fibre optic and seaport) and, being in a mining orientated state, has the potential to attract a variety of interested parties including end users of cobalt. The Project is a 50/50 Joint Venture between Barra and Conico Ltd.
The project economics are heavily geared towards cobalt pricing. Cobalt makes up 72% of the future revenue stream, with Nickel a useful by-product. Both metals will be presented an intermediary Mixed Sulphide Product (MSP) capturing 80-85% of the metal pricing and leaving further value available for other firms to refine downstream into battery chemicals.
Cobalt-Nickel Oxide Deposit
The Project hosts the Mt Thirsty Cobalt-Nickel Oxide Deposit which represents an excellent long-term, low cost, cobalt production opportunity.
The deposit is flat lying, continuous and thick starting from near surface to around 70 metres below surface. Due to intense oxidation, the deposit is very soft and fine grained.
Figure 1 – Mt Thirsty Project Location
Table 1 – Mt Thirsty Mineral Resources Estimate (all grades on a dry basis
Refer to ASX Announcement 9/9/2019 for full details of the Mineral Resource Estimate.
Table 2 – Mt Thirsty Ore Reserve Estimate
Refer to ASX Announcement 20/2/2020 for full details of the Ore Reserve Estimate.
Flow Sheet Design
Extensive metallurgical test work has indicated that high recoveries of cobalt can be achieved via an efficient low temperature, atmospheric leaching process which uses sulphur dioxide (SO2) as the main reagent, resulting in a more practical and economic leaching method by specifically targeting cobalt preferentially (Figure 2). A key competitive advantage of Mt Thirsty is that that as the leaching does not require high pressure, this enables a lower capital expenditure requirement than all other Australian cobalt-nickel projects.
Figure 2 - 3D isometric of the Mt Thirsty processing plant showing generalised process flow (numbered labels)
Pre-feasibility Study (PFS)
The Mt Thirsty PFS returned a positive pre-tax Net Present Value with a low capital cost of A$371 million (including indirect costs, growth allowance, owner’s costs and 10% contingency) (refer to ASX announcement dated 20 February 2020).
The project is expected to produce 19.1kt of cobalt and 24.8kt of nickel as a Mixed Sulphide Product (MSP) over the 12 year life of mine, a product of strategic interest to many multinational mining, refining and trading companies as it is suitable for the metals, chemical and battery markets.
The Mt Thirsty Joint Venture (MTJV) has identified the highest value development path to be a farm-in from a large global firm, eager to secure a guaranteed sustainable source of cobalt and are now re-engaging with several major Australian and international mining, trading and refining firms who have all identified a high quality PFS as their minimum investment criteria.
Nickel Sulphide Mineralisation
In addition to the Cobalt-Nickel Oxide Resource, the Mt Thirsty Project has proven potential to host primary nickel sulphide mineralization at greater depths within the same ultramafic sequence which hosts the near surface oxide deposit.
The thick sequence of altered olivine-rich, cumulate-textured ultramafic rocks contain semi-massive, stringer and disseminated nickel sulphide mineralisation. The footwall contact where the best concentration of nickel sulphides might be expected has been systematically tested with RC and diamond drilling. RC drilling to date has returned nickel sulphide intersections including 6m @ 3.4% nickel, 2m @ 5.9% nickel, 2m @ 3.5% nickel and 1m @ 4.0% nickel (refer to ASX Announcements 31 August 2010, 2 September 2010, 18 November 2010).