JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Australian Mines is now the 100% owner of the Sconi cobalt/nickel/scandium project, after completing the buyout of its joint venture partner’s shareholding in the northern Queensland project.
Australian Mines has paid fellow ASX-listed Metallica Minerals A$4.5-million as its first tranche payment out of an agreed price of A$11-million.
In terms of the transaction, Metallica will be granted A$1.5-million in Australian Mines shares on the completion of a definitive feasibility study by the end of June next year. A further A$5-million will be paid in cash or shares once the operation enters commercial production.
Australian Mines MD Benjamin Bell said on Friday that the Sconi mine was a key part of the company’s strategy to be a significant supplier of cobalt to the emerging electric vehicle sector in the next few years.
“Controlling 100% of the expected cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate production from Sconi provides Australian Mines with far greater scope and flexibility during our current offtake discussions, which are now at an advanced stage, as well as project financing discussions as the company can now ‘speak’ for the full annual production of these highly sought-after battery metals,” said Bell.
The company is aiming to deliver a bankable feasibility study for the Sconi project by April.
A prefeasibility study on the Sconi project has confirmed that it could potentially produce an estimated 5 250 t/y of nickel, 700 t/y of cobalt and 68 t/y of scandium for at least the next 20 years.
The total scandium resource at Sconi is 12-million tonnes, at 162 parts per million of scandium for 2 989 t of scandium oxide. The combined nickel and cobalt mineral resource for the project is 89-million tonnes at 0.58% nickel and 0.06% cobalt for 514 000 t of contained nickel metal and 54 000 t of contained cobalt metal.
Meanwhile, Metallica reported that the sale of its interest in the Sconi JV has boosted its cash at hand. The company now has A$8-million in cash to fund the Urquhart bauxite project, in Queensland, to production.
The Urquhart project is expected to produce between 1.5-million and 2-million tonnes a year of direct shipping bauxite. The Urquhart project, which received federal approval in August this year, is fully funded, with mining and haulage contracts already in place.