Crunch Time for Australian Mines in Queensland
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Junior developer Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) has commenced trial mining at its flagship Sconi Cobalt-Nickel-Scandium Project in Queensland, Australia.
This comes as Aussie-based explorers pick up their rates of exploration activity as we head towards the end of the calendar year. Over the past few weeks, several juniors have announced drilling and sampling programmes across a variety of commodities, and especially metals.
AUZ reports that bulk ore samples totalling 20 tonnes were successfully mined and are to be delivered to a ‘demonstration-size processing plant in Perth’.
AUZ expects to process its mined ore from Sconi within the coming weeks, to produce 160 kilograms of nickel sulphate, 20 kilograms of cobalt sulphate and 5 kilograms of high-purity scandium oxide.
Overall this is an early stage play and as such any investment decision should be made with caution and professional financial advice should be sought.
According to AUZ, all commercial-grade samples obtained as part of the trial-mining operation have ‘already been allocated to current off-take discussion partners’.
The cobalt sulphate, nickel sulphate and scandium oxide to be produced from this ore has already been allocated in full to interested battery and technology metal manufacturers in Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom and North America.
AUZ Market Conclusions
AUZ intends on completing its designated trial mining programme before year end and commence full-scale mining as soon as possible. The Sconi Project is currently one of the most advanced active cobalt developments in Australia. AUZ has all the necessary mining approvals in place and an estimated mine life in excess of 20 years without including further exploration work still to be done.
More broadly, AUZ hopes to capitalise on the ongoing energy-storage industry changes that have seen electric vehicles (and their lithium-ion batteries) catapulted to the forefront of both investor and consumer attention spans.
AUZ is prioritising work that satiates the growing need for additional cobalt supplies from existing battery and technology metal manufacturers.
Over the coming months, AUZ plans to formalise its market intentions by completing a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) on Sconi, expected to be done and dusted by the end of April 2018. A final investment decision on a full-scale mining and processing operation will follow soon after.
AUZ Managing Director Benjamin Bell explained that,
“A larger scale run is scheduled for the December quarter . We are advancing off-take discussions with nine separate interested parties. These discussions are on-going with many subject to the receipt of samples from the current trial mining operation at Sconi”.
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