A Scoping Study found that Marianas could become a viable producer of high quality iron ore products when developed.
The project is likely to benefit from low capital expenditure for the development of Marianas in Copiapo in Chile.
In addition, the processing of tailings is likely to be fairly simple and could generate significant cash flows.
Option to acquire 100% of Marianas
Condor has signed an option to increase its ownership to 100% (from 50%) through the payment of US$2 million, which should enable a faster development timetable and cash flow generation path.
"This agreement will also allow us to achieve the best outcome in terms of finalising arrangements to acquire project finance and operate the project on a profit-sharing basis. Those agreements are currently under final due diligence, and so this couldn't come at a better time," managing director Glen Darby said.
The Scoping Study was undertaken by a Chilean mining engineering consultancy firm and authored by Juan Pasten Castillo.
The Study evaluated the economic and technical aspects of the project and examined Condor's plans for onsite processing of the tailings into a saleable concentrate averaging 62% Fe.
It would then be transported to an iron ore export facility at Caldera via the existing freeway. The robust outcome utilised a system that would place the Fe concentrate on ships offshore via self-propelled barges owned and operated by a 3rd party operator.
Condor's initial studies established a business strategy to process the tailings using simple magnetic separation technology.
This processing strategy also incorporated a decision to reduce the capital investment by utilizing available capacities for trucking and magnetic processing in Atacama Region, applying a contractor based operation.
This would allow Condor to operate on a profit sharing basis, utilising a dry iron magnetic plant and an existing truck fleet in the Marianas production cycle.
Davis Tube Test (NYSE:DTT) methodology results provide a concentrate grading 65.22% iron (Fe) Total.
The metallurgical testwork has demonstrated the ability to upgrade the magnetite mineralisation in the tailings to approximately 65% Fe. The product produced was also shown to contain very low levels of impurities and as so is relatively high quality.
The Environmental Permitting Process is expected to be relatively straightforward, as the project will support the rehabilitation of this historical tailings dump.
Therefore, no delays are expected in the permitting process. Currently a 19% tax on profit is applied in Chile.
The Scoping Study is based on broad metallurgical testwork. Further testing will be required for the final detailed planning studies. These will also assess other processing configurations that may result in increased project value.
Managing director, Glen Darby said: "We are very pleased to announce that the Marianas Iron Tailings Project is shaping up to be a viable producer of very high quality iron ore products.
The findings from the Scoping Study provide us with reconfirmation that Marianas has the ability to be cost competitive from Day 1, and the potential for Condor to be one of Australia's next iron ore producers."
With the positive development conclusion from the Scoping Study, planning is now underway to support further environmental studies, full mining access rights and conceptual engineering.
The environmental study will require a conceptual study to provide the parameters to evaluate the impact on the social and environmental sector surrounding the project area.
Although the details of the Study were not divulged, the Marianas iron tailings project looks set to move forward with likely low CAPEX and low OPEX given details released to date. It may also provide Condor with a fast payback period given the tailings being treated and use of a local contractor based which could provide potentially strong cash flow generation ability.
A signed option to move to 100% ownership allows faster financing options for developing Marianas to delivering ore, providing greater certainty and also higher financial returns to Condor shareholders.