Sconi proponent Australian Mines is reassessing the planned location of its processing plant, haul roads and other infrastructure at the planned north Queensland mine after a review showed high-grade cobalt and nickel mineralisation at the earmarked sites.
The company has conducted a review of sterilisation drilling as part of its bankable feasibility study (BFS) for the scandium-cobalt-nickel project.
Sterilisation drilling is undertaken during the pre-development phase to ensure there is no significant mineralisation beneath the sites earmarked for uses including buildings, roads, service connections, and waste storage.
In this case it was undertaken by previous owner Metallica Minerals, who appeared to have designed the operation layout to maximise scandium production, Australian Mines said.
Since acquiring a 100 per cent interest in the Sconi project from Metallica Minerals in 2017, and having signed a binding off-take agreement with SK Innovation, Australian Mines has been focused on optimising the Sconi BFS for cobalt and nickel production to maximise economic returns.
The company said its finding that the previous sterilisation drilling intersected similar grades to those included in the project’s current mineral resource indicated that the overall footprint of cobalt and nickel mineralisation at Sconi may be significantly larger than previously indicated by the prefeasibility and the project’s existing mineral resource statement.
“Australian Mines remains committed to delivering the maximum value to shareholders from the Sconi project through the delivery of a large-scale cobalt-nickel-scandium mining and processing operation in northern Queensland,” managing director Benjamin Bell said.
“Given this operation has the potential to run for several decades once commissioned, it is imperative that we invest time at this critical planning stage to ensure the site is set-up to maximise and sustain future production.
“The positive news for Australian Mines’ shareholders from the review of the sterilisation drilling program, is that the grades intersected were sufficient for us to reassess the plant location and will inevitably be the catalyst for us to reassess the overall footprint of the cobalt and nickel mineralisation.”