COB's recently completed Thackaringa drilling campaign (8,000 metres) declared a combined 55Mt Inferred and Indicated Resource at 910 ppm cobalt (5 June 2017) in addition to a successful Scoping Study (11 July 2017), which will be used a baseline for our upcoming Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS).
Even after the considerable ground work completed so far, the mineralisation remains open at depth and along the entire 4.5km resource strike length. Clearly, more work is required to outline the full scope of the cobalt resource.
With this in mind, our next stage of field work is about to commence.
Aerial Geophysical Survey
Firstly, we will be conducting an aerial geophysical survey over the entirety of the Thackaringa tenements (EL6622, EL8143, ML86 & ML87). This work involves a helicopter-borne electromagnetic system acquiring high resolution data over approximately 655 line-kilometres at 100m line spacing. The survey began on 22 September with completion expected by 30 September.
For investors interested in more detail, we are using a Versatile Time-Domain Electromagnetic geophysical system. The system provides a combination of attractive penetration depth (>400m) and high spatial resolution. The survey will be conducting passes that are generally perpendicular to the cobalt bearing pyrite horizons, so as to increase the effective contrast of any anomalies detected.
Processing and modelling of acquired data is then expected by mid November. A 3D geological model will be completed in parallel and expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The survey represents a strong option to better understand Thackaringa's geological potential. The work could significantly expand the cobalt footprint currently mapped at Thackaringa. This additional potential could add further longevity and scale to an already world class project.
Our target remains a 40Mt Indicated Resource by 1 April 2018 with drill rigs mobilising to site and drilling to commence next week.
The program consists of a total 90 holes comprising both Reverse Circulation and Diamond drilling across the Railway, Pyrite Hill and Big Hill deposits. The Railway deposit will be the first priority with Pyrite Hill to follow.
Designed to underpin Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimation, this significant campaign will provide important geological and geotechnical information required for Pre-feasibility studies.
The drill program will dramatically improve geological confidence by reducing the average drill spacing to 50m along strike.
The majority of holes will target shallow mineralisation to 150m below surface, although previous drilling confirmed extensions to 300m below surface.
We will release updates on this drilling program periodically as assay results become available.
The recently delivered Scoping Study concluded that the optimal processing path tested during the study achieved a ~90% cobalt recovery from in-ground to payable metal in addition to producing elemental sulphur. That result is a significant achievement and forms a strong baseline to move forward.
Work has now commenced on a PFS. The testwork will be centred on treating ~800 kg of ore through the proposed process: concentration; thermal treatment; leaching; and product recovery. The ore samples were collected in the 2016 diamond drilling program, and are representative of Railway Hill and Pyrite Hill deposits
The program is designed to deliver 'reliable and repeatable' results at a scale 10-50 times larger than the tests used in the Scoping Study, where the 'proof-of-concept' was determined. The results will be used to conducted engineering studies and cost estimates for the PFS.
Test work on the gravity circuit has begun and investors can expect an update by mid October. Overall, we expect to complete the majority of testwork by December.
COB remains focused on proving up the processing and economics of our unique ore. Our goal is to prove a long life mining operation capable of operating at cobalt cycle troughs, and of course generating substantial margins at current market pricing.
Thackaringa Project Timeline
Our project timeline remains as below, with the 40Mt Indicated Resource target due to be declared by 1 April 2018, followed shortly thereafter by the completed PFS (30 June 2018). We will look for opportunities to accelerate these timelines where possible.
Our Cobalt Strategy
Globally, cobalt demand is split into two streams - namely batteries and traditional alloys. These vastly different demand drivers are causing rapid market bifurcation and presenting a strong opportunity for COB.
Our focus is on the battery market, and in particular on combining cobalt and sulphur into a cobalt sulphate crystal. These crystals are typically priced at parity or small premium to the London Metal Exchange cobalt price. In contrast, lower value cobalt concentrates are priced at only 20-30% of the same benchmark.
Thackaringa ore, with both cobalt and sulphur occurring naturally, has a significant advantage in this production chain. This advantage is amplified thanks to the availability of people, power, water, road and rail at nearby Broken Hill.
Investors can expect regular updates as we progress towards Stage One project delivery, in particular drilling program and metallurgical test work updates over the course of Q4 2017.
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About Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited
Cobalt Blue Holdings Ltd (ASX:COB) is an exploration company focussed on green energy technology and a strategy of fast-tracking development of the Thackaringa Cobalt Project in New South Wales to achieve commercial production of cobalt. This strategic metal is in strong demand for new generation batteries, particularly lithium-ion batteries now being widely used in clean energy systems.
Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited