Frontier Mining (AIM: FML) has received assay results for the first 8 holes of its infill drilling programme at the Benkala copper project in north-western Kazakhstan, saying the results indicate copper grades of 0.63 percent, slightly higher compared to the historical drilling data in the Soviet era 1976-1980 which indicated an average copper content for the deposit of 0.55 percent.
The latest news affirms what the group announced at the end of March when copper content from the first 3 holes showed an improvement over the Soviet data.
Frontier’s 50% owned KazCopper, a joint venture with Coville Intercorp, undertook the drilling programme at Benkala, with the first 54 holes completed in December. The majority, 48 holes, were drilled between 33-200 metres totalling 4,872.7m in oxide ore, whilst the remaining 6 holes were drilled to depths between 230 - 350 metres totalling 1,826.2m.
The main focus of the programme was to confirm the oxide section of the project, enabling Frontier to prepare for initial copper production using an SX-EW process (solvent extraction and electrowinning).
Drill hole 111-4 intersected copper at 0.74 percent over 19.5m and 117-5 found copper at 0.92 percent over 45.5m.
Erlan Sagadiev, CEO of Frontier Mining commented today: "Now that we are entering the production phase, we are pleased to see that these positive results continue to demonstrate the quality of the Benkala deposit. With 63% recovery in the lab tests, the ability to process the oxide cap of the deposit through conventional SX/EW processing reinforces our decision to use this technology and further supports our overall business strategy for initial production in 2011."
The company will continue to provide updates on its drilling results and development activities at Benkala as they become available.Frontier expects to issue a JORC compliant resource statement for the oxide/supergene zone in the third quarter of 2010.
Following the completion of the first stage of the infill drilling, KazCopper is now working on an additional 3,000 metres of oxide ore drilling at depths of 100 to 250 metres in the proposed open pit zone.
Frontier is in discussions with joint venture partner Coville regarding a potential merger. The groups announced in February 2010 they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to that effect, and the transaction is expected to be concluded by 31 October 2010.
The Soviet estimates, carried out in the nineteen-seventies, inferred a resource of over 2 million tonnes of contained Copper and associated Gold & Molybdenum. However, due to the lack of infrastructure at that time, the development of a mining operation was abandoned. With the modern development in the area, including the construction of two regional airports, road and rail networks, and the ongoing installation of electricity and other utilities, Frontier does no longer consider infrastructure to be a concern.