Gunson Resources (ASX:GUN) has noticed a recent pick-up in the level of interest in mineral sands as it continues discussions with parties for a stake in its Coburn Mineral Sands Project in Western Australia.
Permitting of the project is also progressing with the Department of Mines and Petroleum requesting further operational details for the Radiation Management Plan.
The greater interest is in line with Credit Suisse's forecast in March that conditions are set for a gradual price recovery in the zircon and high grade titanium oxide feedstock markets.
This was due to its expectations for Chinese construction growth to continue as well as its belief that high grade TiO2 feedstocks are defensive against Chinese growth risks as they are not used by China.
Credit Suisse also forecast a global deficit of 181,000 tonnes of zircon in 2014.
Gunson noted that the additional data required by the DMP for the Radiation Management Plan includes the identity and qualifications of the party responsible for implementing the plan.
The information is required within 6 months of the commencement of mining, or about 12 months into the Project's construction phase.
Gunson has already received final approval for its Mining Proposal 2 and Works Approval 2, allowing the project to proceed to construction and mining once financing is secured.
Coburn has a Resource of 979 million tonnes and JORC Reserve of 308 million tonnes grading 1.2% heavy minerals.
The company has recently raised $314,106 through an entitlement offer of 18,476,814 shares priced at $0.017 each, adding to a $300,000 placement of 17,647,061 shares at the same price.
It has the right to place the shortfall of 42,020,566 shares from the entitlement offer.
MG14 and Windabout
The company also advised that Torrens Mining is continuing metallurgical testwork on the MG14 and Windabout deposits in South Australia.
Torrens, which is earning up to 51% in the two deposits, has commenced sodium cyanide regeneration tests with results expected by the end of July 2014.
The quantum of sodium cyanide regeneration in the proposed leaching process will be an important determinant of potential economic viability.
Consistent with reports regarding the behaviour of the cobalt-bearing sulphide mineral carrollite, cobalt is not reporting to the sodium cyanide leach.
Tests undertaken by Gunson in 2010 showed that carrollite floats efficiently, with recoveries in excess of 90% recorded.
Provided that positive results continue to be obtained, Torrens' metallurgical testing will likely continue for another 6 months.
Parallel activities aimed at early production are planned by Torrens, including commencement of the permitting process, resource evaluation and modelling, mining studies, ongoing economic modelling, plant and tailings storage facility design, infrastructure planning, and other related works.
Torrens - an unlisted public company - must spend a cumulative $2.5 million to earn a 51% interest in a joint venture over the two deposits.
Gunson had in February 2014 granted Torrens a 12 month option to complete a Metallurgical Test Study and establish the economic viability of extracting copper, silver, and cobalt from the resources located at MG14 and Windabout.
MG14 has a JORC 2012 Indicated Resource of 1.62 million tonnes averaging 1.4% copper, 397 ppm cobalt and 14 g/t silver at 0.5% copper cut off.
The larger Windabout deposit has a pre-2000 JORC Indicated Rresource of 18.7 million tonnes averaging 1% copper, 500 ppm cobalt and 10 g/t silver at 0.5% copper cut off.
Mount Gunson Copper Project
Gunson is also assessing its options for the Mount Gunson Copper Exploration Project in South Australia.
This includes the possibility of negotiating an expansion of the Joint Venture with Torrens to include access to the Emmie Bluff Inferred Resource and exploration rights within the Cover Sequence, thus providing growth prospects for that Project.
Farm-out of the underlying Gawler Craton Basement will also be considered given that this is more likely to host iron oxide associated copper-gold mineralisation and therefore unlikely to fit within the scope of the Joint Venture with Torrens.
The company is continuing discussions around a possible farm-out of its Fowlers Bay Nickel Project in South Australia.
It intends to submit an application for the project to the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy, which is soliciting proposals for co-funding of exploration drilling projects in August 2014.
Gunson has also received a draft contract from the Northern Territory Government regarding the $49,390 in co-funding for its Tennant Creek gold-copper project in the Georgina Basin.
Assuming that a positive decision is taken, drilling could commence during the third quarter of 2014.
This will test a coincident gravity-magnetic geophysical anomaly in basement rocks beneath about 90 metres of Georgina Basin sedimentary cover on the Gosse 5 Exploration Licence, about 70 kilometres east of the Tennant Creek townsite.
The drill target is a hematite-rich variant of the well documented magnetite-rich gold-copper deposits of the Tennant Creek goldfield.
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