Capricorn Copper is keen to add cobalt to its product line after modelling proving the extent of the resource at its copper operation, 125km north of Mount Isa.
Chief executive officer Brett Fletcher said the company was excited about the potential to produce and sell cobalt, which is expected to generate increasing demand as one of the specialist metals used in battery production.
“We have all the infrastructure in place, whereas, if you look at other cobalt prospects in the country, they have deposits probably not as good as us and no infrastructure at all,” Mr Fletcher said.
“We are already looking to move forward with additional metallurgical testing to determine viability next year.”
The site now has a copper resource of 69.9 million tonnes at 1.8 per cent copper, with 340 parts per million cobalt.
Mr Fletcher said cobalt prices were three or four times that of copper, and he expected them to increase as the world transitioned to a renewable energy future.
“There are a lot of small cobalt deposits around the place, but not associated with existing operations – that makes us a very special,” Mr Fletcher said. “As a by-product to an existing line – that is the great opportunity for us.”
The mine, also known as Gunpowder and called Mount Gordon under previous owners, was brought back online by Capricorn Copper in 2017.
Years of work have gone into updating the resource model for the site.
Exploration manager Matt Price said that work under Capricorn Copper had produced a global estimate, whereas previously the resource modelling had been piecemeal.
The resource of 69.9 million tonnes at 1.8 per cent copper – the equivalent of about 1.2 million tonnes of copper metal – is spread across five key deposits.
Capricorn Copper is presently mining the Esperanza South ore body, while Mammoth is the largest ore body at the site.
Mr Price said the company had started mining Greenstone, a satellite deposit of Mammoth, last year. The other deposits are Esperanza and Pluto.
While the presence of cobalt in particular areas of the Capricorn Copper mining leases was known previously, the recent work to update the site resources has better qualified how much is there – particularly in the Esperanza, Pluto and Esperanza South deposits.
“We are getting quite significant cobalt numbers,” Mr Price said.
“The Esperanza resource itself is 4 million tonnes at 2.1 per cent copper and more than 1300ppm cobalt as well. That is quite significant.”
Capricorn Copper has a mine life of about 13 years and work is continuing to expand that.
Promisingly, the key deposits at Capricorn Copper all remain open at depth and Mr Price says some of the deeper drill holes have been showing intersections that are ‘really quite special’.
“We also have a large tenement package – we’re looking at 2100sq km,” Mr Price said.
“So we have been working pretty hard at drumming up some regional targets as well as the near-mine work.
“We have a number of copper prospects we’d probably like to drill test next year as well as some other metals.”