Phoenix Copper (ASX:PNX) is gearing up for activity at the Hayes Creek Project in the Northern Territory's Pine Creek region in the dry season and has been going through historic data on its projects.
In January, impressively the company intersected a thick zone of massive sulphide mineralisation with the first hole at the Iron Blow deposit.
This returned 50.39 metres at 10.12% zinc, 2.66 grams per tonne gold, 132.9g/t silver, 0.57% copper and 1.39% lead from 155.72 metres including 19.45 metres at 15.48% zinc, 2.65g/t gold, 158.2 g/t silver, 0.56% copper and 2.56% lead from 156.5 metres.
The drill program achieved the following:
- Confirmed the continuity of the mineralisation within the resource, (JORC 2012 inferred resource estimate containing approximately 200,000 ounces of gold, 10.7 million ounces of silver and 125,000 tonnes of zinc in 2.6 million tonnes of ore);
- Obtained 'fresh' samples for metallurgical test work; and
- Identified new mineralised positions, including gold only zones between and below the massive sulphide lenses (not included in the above resource).
Metallurgical test work is going well, the optical scanning work (including Qemscan) has been completed and now initial sighter flotation and magnetic separation work is underway.
Further results are expected in two to three weeks.
The aim is to define the unit operations baseline performances, generate a preliminary process flowsheet, and outline an optimisation test work program to improve on the results are achieved in the initial phase of work
Key findings so far:
- Zinc is well liberated and confirmed as the best performing base metal with respect to concentrate recovery and grade;
- Pyrrhotite has been identified as the dominant sulphide gangue mineral and is also well liberated;
- Wet High Gradient Magnetic Separation is being investigated as a potential beneficiation option by selectively removing liberated Pyrrhotite from the float feed;
- Both the optical mineralogy and the historic literature indicate that the silver will be recovered with the lead (Galena), therefore maximising lead recovery (and silver by association) into a separate lead concentrate product would produce the best result economically; and
- Arsenopyrite is fine grained and poorly liberated. Its associations are predominantly with Pyrrhotite so the conditions to remove or depress Pyrrhotite should act the same on Arsenopyrite.
Test work will focus on:
- Bulk rougher flotation tests to determine how much zinc, gold, silver, lead and copper can be recovered and verify historical results, and to observe any kinetic differences between minerals in respect to flotation time;
- Baseline differential flotation tests aiming at producing separate lead and zinc concentrates using standard operating reagent regimes from Australian lead / zinc operations in order characterise the material and obtain a standard data set for future optimisation; and
- If Magnetic Separation shows potential, then a two stage rougher flotation test on the magnetic tail will be undertaken to create separate zinc and lead (including copper) concentrates using Pyrrhotite depressants.
Phoenix Copper plans to be on the ground in mid/late April to undertake downhole and ground geophysics at Iron Blow, Mt Bonnie and some of the regional exploration targets.
Results from this work will assist with the targeting for the next round of drilling and to identify new areas for exploration.
Drilling will commence in May, initially targeting an extension to existing mineralisation at Mt Bonnie in order to develop a resource.
This seeks to define an initial 0.8 million to 1 million tonne resource at similar grades to the Iron Blow resource.
The company will then drill test the best regional exploration targets, either those that it will have recently completed ground geophysics over or those that are already drill ready such as El Dollarado.
With the first hole having already intersected an impressive thick zone of massive sulphide mineralisation with grades including 15.48% zinc, 2.65g/t gold, 158.2 g/t silver, 0.56% copper, Phoenix Copper's further exploration work bears keeping tabs on.
Test work has already confirmed that zinc at Iron Blow is the best performing base metal with respect to concentrate recovery and grade while silver will be recovered with lead.
Adding to the building story, the deposits are on granted Mining Leases and are located close to infrastructure, including rail, road, power and water.
Iron Blow could have potential to become a significant zinc deposit and its promise comes as zinc prices are forecast to rise over the next couple of years.
Zinc supplies are expected to be constrained as a number of mines are set to close during this period while consumption is tipped to continue rising.
Share Price Catalysts
- Results from further testwork;
- Downhole and ground geophysics results;
- Drilling at Mt Bonnie; and
- Further drilling of regional exploration targets.
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