Importantly, this now includes a Measured Resource of 10.4Mt at 2.93%, or 306,000 tonnes of contained copper.
Optimisation of metallurgy, process plant design and mine plan is underway using this updated Resource estimate.
"We are delighted with this Mineral Resource update. The excellent results reported from the Phase 7 drilling program have translated into an increase in tonnes, grade and confidence level, delivering an increase of over 25% in contained copper metal in the high-grade zone of the Kitumba deposit," acting chief executive officer Mike Oppenheimer said.
"At a 1% Cu cut-off, the Mineral Resource now has a copper grade of 2.29%, confirming Kitumba's ranking as one of the highest grade undeveloped copper resources of ASX listed projects.
"With over 10 million tonnes of Mineral Resource at nearly 3% in the Measured category, or 306,000 tonnes of contained Cu metal, we look forward to being able to announce an update to the Ore Reserve estimate, once the optimised mine plan has been completed.
He said the company is now focused on optimising other key economic drivers, including metallurgy and process plant design to improve metal recovery, in parallel with optimisation of the mine design.
"The PFS Optimisation is proceeding to schedule and is expected to be completed by April 2014," Oppenheimer added.
Kitumba Resource Update
Blackthorn had engaged South Africa's The MSA Group as an independent consultant to conduct the updated resource estimate after completing the Phase 7 drilling program.
Using a 1% Cu cut-off, the Kitumba deposit now contains a total Measured and Indicated Resource of 34.7Mt grading 2.29% for a total of 795,000 tonnes of copper. This represents a 25% increase in contained metal over the April 2013 Mineral Resource estimate.
Notably, 35% of the resource, or 10.4Mt at 2.93% copper, is in the high confidence Measured category.
Phase 7 drilling of 10 resource definition holes, 3 geotechnical holes, 4 new holes and the extension of two existing holes focused on satellite targets near Kitumba had returned world class copper intercepts.
These included 166 metres at 7.14% copper from 199 metres, 174 metres grading 5.04% copper from 240 metres and 243 metres at 5% copper from 208 metres.
Kitumba Copper Project
The company had last month released the Pre-Feasibility Study for Kitumba that demonstrated its potential to be an economically and technically viable project.
Notably, work is ongoing to optimise the project with a focus on metallurgical recovery and mining sequence that could enhance economics.
Kitumba is currently envisaged as an underground operation targeting the high-grade core of the deposit. This has a 11 year mine life based on 33 million tonnes of mineable ore with 572,000 tonnes of contained copper.
Shares in Blackthorn Resources should trade higher on the resource upgrade, which notably includes a maiden Measured Resource of 10.4Mt at 2.93% copper, or 306,000 tonnes of contained copper.
While this is value accretive on its own, the updated resource will play a key role in optimising the Pre-Feasibility Study, which should further enhance project returns.
Further share price catalysts ahead include the upcoming Ore Reserve and the PFS optimisation, expected in April 2014.
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