PNX Metals (ASX:PNX) has achieved an encouraging first step in extracting value from its Hayes Creek multi-metal project in the Northern Territory, with new metallurgical work producing saleable zinc and high-grade copper, gold, silver and lead.
Testing on the project's Iron Blow deposit massive sulphides has successfully identified a practical and economic flowsheet to maximise recoveries of the most valuable economic minerals in the resource.
Zinc was upgraded from 28.7% zinc (in rougher concentrate) to 43.8% zinc at an overall 70.3% recovery.
By recirculating zinc recleaner tails (as would occur in a standard flowsheet) further improvements in zinc recovery (82.24%), and grade (46.84%), and rejection of iron and arsenic is considered likely.
Likewise with the zinc cleaner tails were recirculated to the head of the lead/copper regrind circuit to recover further gold/silver.
Historical testwork suggests an overall gold recovery of 92.5% can be achieved in the sulphide zones.
These metallurgical results, along with historical analyses, will provide key processing input parameters for the Hayes Creek scoping study to be completed in March 2016.
Iron Blow has an inferred resource of about 200,000 ounces of gold, 10.7 million ounces of silver and 125,000 tonnes of zinc at potentially mineable grades.
An initial resource at the Mt Bonnie deposit (which also contributed to the metallurgical work) is expected in the near term.
Last month, PNX improved the prospects for Mt Bonnie's maiden resource by demonstrating continuity and consistency of mineralisation in a simple tabular northwest dipping zone of massive sulphides.
Some of the better intersections from the latest drilling included 8.78 metres at 7.16% zinc, 1.04g/t gold, 215g/t silver, 0.34% copper and 1.62% lead from 55 metres and 42.25 metres at 2.96% zinc, 0.59g/t gold, 35g/t silver and 0.33% lead from 25.75 metres.
The latter of these intersections contained a 3.1-metre intercept at 10.77% zinc, 3.34g/t gold, 133g/t gold, 0.39% copper and 1.21% lead from 63.9 metres.
The results generated from this recent flotation testwork are encouraging in that they demonstrate Hayes Creek 's potential to achieve high recovery and grades of zinc to a marketable and saleable concentrate product.
This is an important development for Hayes Creek, which stands to optimise the economics of its flowsheet dramatically if multiple metals can be commercialised.
Optimising the lead/copper stream to maximise gold and silver credits will be the focus of ongoing testwork and could offer additional price catalysts for PNX.
Also, investors will look out for the development of a robust economic flowsheet, an initial resource estimate for Mt Bonnie is due shortly and a Scoping Study to be completed in March 2016.
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