Broken Hill Prospecting Limited (“BPL”) is the 100% owner of near-surface cobalt mineral deposits located around Thackaringa (an area situated approximately 25 km south west from Broken Hill) where it holds two exploration licenses and two mining leases [EL6622 (Pine Ridge), EL8143, ML86 (Pyrite Hill) and ML87 (Big Hill)].
The Company’s geologists and consultants are exploring several large, low-grade and near-surface cobalt deposits. BPL is focused on assessing these deposits for large open cut mining, and cobaltiferous pyrite concentrate production/processing to produce cobalt, sulphuric acid for industrial application, feldspar-quartz for ceramics and a high iron residue for iron smelters.
Because of the excellent location of the deposits beside main railway and road networks and within a half hour drive from the mining centre of Broken Hill, BPL is confident of successful project development. This will be assisted by a growing industrial demand for cobalt which is mostly produced as by-product of copper mining from deposits in central Africa.
The combined Inferred Resources and potential mineralisation for the areas covered by mining leases totals 39.7 million tonnes of 1.79 pound per tonne cobalt (71 million pounds of contained cobalt metal).
Wide-spaced drilling in early 2012 at the Railway Prospect intersected near-surface cobaltiferous pyrite mineralisation within a zone which trends for more than 1.5 kilometres and is up to 300 metres wide. The mineralisation is open at depth.
BPL has commenced a resource assessment and will undertake feasibility studies to investigate a 7.5 million tonne per year open cut mine with annual production of pyrite concentrate containing about 7,000 tonnes of cobalt. For further information on BPL’s cobalt deposits click here.
Cobalt supply is currently dominated by bi-product copper mines in central Africa and nickel deposits. BPL offers an opportunity to invest in future cobalt production with low political and technical risk. For reasons on why to invest in BPL click here.
Recent exploration has lead to the discovery of Broken Hill style mineralisation (rich in zinc, lead and silver) on the Company’s tenements in over 13 different locations, four of which have proved to be of commercial grade. For more information on BPL’s base metal deposits click here.
The Company is also exploring for new cobalt resources within the same host rocks (quartz-albite-pyrite gneiss) which are widespread throughout the BPL tenements. BPL’s geological team have developed a model for the formation and development of the cobalt mineralisation and are using aspects of this model to help with exploration for other cobalt targets within the BPL tenements as well as within the Broken Hill region.
BPL is also exploring for Broken Hill type mineralisation (Zn-Pb-Ag) within its tenements and during late 2010 and early 2011 completed drill testing at several prospects for base metals mineralisation (Pyramid Hill, Himalaya North, Pyrite Hill South). This work defined base metal anomalies which could be marginal to significant sized underlying base metal deposits. For further information on BPL’s exploration plans click here.
The pyrite cobalt mineralisation has shown to be a valuable feed source for sulphuric acid production, an important chemical which is commonly imported into Australia and which is integral in processing many mineral resources and for industrial applications.
In late 2012, BPL commissioned GHD Engineering to complete scoping studies that detailed robust economics for the production of pyrite concentrate to manufacture sulphuric acid. The work highlighted the increasing Australian and world demand for sulphuric acid and suggested that a chemical industry based on sulphuric acid production could add considerable project value.
In 2014 a three-month team study, entitled Strategic Evaluation of Sulphuric Acid Production, was completed by Alexia Combet, Tushar Gupta, Aristotle Solomon and Rico Xiong as a partial requirement of the Australian Graduate School of Management’s MBA graduate course.
The study incorporated details of the 2012 GHD scoping study report undertaken for BPL, and added new research undertaken by the AGMS team. Three locations for producing and selling sulphuric acid were reviewed; Broken Hill, central west NSW, Tennant Creek. The group determined that the optimal economic parameters were likely to be from producing sulphuric acid at Broken Hill where new industries to process titanium sand products (ilmentite, leucoxene) could provide a large and long-term (plus 20 years) customer for the acid.
TITANIUM AND ZIRCONIUM
In mid 2014 Broken Hill Prospecting applied for a large portfolio of heavy mineral sands (HMS) prospects south of Broken Hill. The project area covers 20 known heavy mineral sand deposits (titanium and zirconium) within five new exploration licence applications in the northern Murray Basin. All of the HMS prospects have been investigated by other mineral explorers including Iluka Resources Ltd, Bemax Resources Ltd (now Cristal Mining) and Westralian Sands Ltd. Several have been shown to be of considerable size.
Recent advances in technology have resulted in lower cost and competitive processing options for fine-grained heavy mineral sands, unlocking an opportunity to take a fresh look these prospects. BPL will seek to define a near-surface deposit of about 50 million tonnes of around 5% HM (with ~2-4Mt contained HM). This could support mining 3-6 Mtpa, to produce ~200,000t HM/year.
BPL will advance research and data compilation on each of the 20 prospects within the five exploration licence application areas. When granted, BPL plans to undertake shallow drill testing along grids that cover the highest priority target areas. This work will use conventional drilling equipment, and most holes are likely to be less than 30 metres depth.
Sampling and assessment of drilled intervals will take care to evaluate the fine grained HMS fractions as well as the more conventional coarser grained strand zones. Previous work by other companies in most of the ELA areas has located considerable volumes of fine-grained HMS as well as narrower zones of coarse sands with appreciable ilmenite, rutile and zircon content.
BPL’s planned future work will give preference to evaluation of bulk tonnage targets and will consider recent technological developments which may enhance processing of relatively fine grained HMS.
Some of the ilmenite separated from any future HMS mining could be amenable to upgrade to titanium pigment using sulphuric acid produced from BPL’s potential cobalt processing options.