New Century Resources is launching a drilling campaign and Induced Polarisation (IP) survey program at Century mine in a bid to extend the life of the operation.
The exploration drive comes as the company works towards a Q3 2018 start to operations at the lower Gulf site, where it plans to utilise the previously mothballed infrastructure to produce zinc concentrate.
This would initially be derived from tailings at the site, which contain ore reserves of 77.3 million tonnes.
New Century head of corporate affairs Shane Goodwin said about 130 people were working on site now, including a Sedgman team refurbishing the processing plant and an Ausenco-led group refurbishing the 304km slurry pipeline between the mine site and Karumba port facilities.
The company’s 2018 exploration program will begin with a 2500m drilling
program and IP survey work across a number of targets .
The company has also gained about 876sq km of new exploration tenements in the region and has expressed interest in areas near Century that area being released via competitive tender as part of Queensland’s Annual Exploration Program.
“From our point of view it makes a lot of sense for us to secure those tenements so we can explore them as well,” Mr Goodwin said.
“They are not immediately adjacent, but are effectively adjacent to the mining lease at Century – so securing those makes a lot of sense to us, because if they do host an economic resource then we are the owners of the infrastructure in the region that could really make them viable projects to develop.
The new tenements the company has been granted acquired include Little Archie Creek – 20km north of the Century Mine, Mussellbrook – 50km north of Century, and Soda Creek –about 100km east of Century.
Mr Goodwin said the expected mine life from the Century restart was just over six years and the company had feasibility work under way to extend that by mining areas adjacent to the original Century deposit.
Areas to be drilled to support that work include South Block, East Fault Block and Silver King.
“We are looking at ways to extend the life of the operation, which is good for us – but it’s also good for the community,” Mr Goodwin said.
The company on Tuesday also announced it had executed its fifth concentrate offtake agreement – this time with commodity trader Concord Resources.
It followed hot on the heels of an announcement on Monday on a deal with MRI Trading AG and means that 80 per cent of the operation’s scheduled production in its first three and a half years has now been contracted.
“We are aiming for 90 per cent, so we are still negotiating with potential offtake partners, but we are very, very pleased with the outcome of negotiations to date,” Mr Goodwin said.
“The thing about Century material is the concentrate has been through every smelter and handled by every trader that exists – so they know what they are dealing with.”