Aus Tin Mining is stepping up work on its cobalt-rich Kilkivan group of prospects, 30km south-west of Gympie, after a $1.45 million capital raising.
The company is pursuing a relatively low-cost development model based on mining a high-grade cobalt-manganese material called asbolite (pictured).
Chief executive officer Peter Williams said accelerating development and exploration at Mt Cobalt in particular had been the principal aim of the recent fundraising share placement.
The company plans an ‘active program of work’ there in the first half of 2018.
As well as Mt Cobalt, the Kilkivan project includes the Pembroke, Silver Valley, Jackson North and Ridley prospects.
Aus Tin Mining acquired the tenements when it merged with AusNiCo five years ago.
They represent a diversification from the company’s core focus – tin.
Aus Tin Mining has an operating tin mine in Tasmania (Granville) and a major development asset in New South Wales (Taronga), and Mr Williams admits that the tin side of the business has consumed about 90 per cent of its time and resources in the past few years.
But the results coming in from Mt Cobalt amid strong market conditions for battery-making minerals mean it cannot be ignored.
“We have been pursuing a path and developing tin assets and we’re of the view that tin is going to have its time – a bit like cobalt is now, and we want to be well positioned for when that occurs,” Mr Williams said.
“But in terms of creating wealth for shareholders, we could not be blind to the fact that we had some very good drilling results from Mt Cobalt and I guess it was incumbent on us to pursue that.
“We felt that accelerating some of that work would be the way to go.
“We remain true to our core focus, but we think we have a very exciting prospect and we have the capacity and some additional funding which will allow us to pursue that.”
Mr Williams said the company was targeting a high-grade material called asbolite, which was mined as far back as the 1880s at Mt Cobalt, rather than the conventional large-scale lateritic nickel-cobalt model.
“We felt that high-grade, perhaps smaller tonnage may be a development model that we could pursue, compared to some that have been pursued by other cobalt aspirants – which inevitably require very significant capital,” he said.
“So we did some drilling and got some very encouraging results.”
The company had worked through some challenges in terms of the topography in 2017 and achieved confirmation of high-grade material further along strike, he said.
“It’s still early days, but certainly very encouraging and I guess that’s been reflected in the market response to our drilling,” Mr Williams said.