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Critical Metals improves logistics infrastructure for 2024 ramp up

20th December 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

     

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Southern Africa- and Americas-focused developer and miner Critical Metals is progressing with the development of its Molulu copper-cobalt project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), being in receipt of key permits and by investing further in key infrastructure.

Critical Metals has received permits for trucks to use the public roads, been granted permission to transverse a neighbouring property and plans to undertaken further road upgrades soon to handle heavier general traffic in proximity to the Molulu project.

Since May, Critical Metals has invested in the road at Molulu, including construction of a bridge, to allow ore to be removed from the mine site and transported to the off-take purchaser.

In addition, the proposed rental and acquisition of the processing copper-cobalt plant would see a significant increase in the volume of ore that will be transported from Molulu.

Ensuring smooth mine logistics and delivery of ore throughout the year in extreme weather conditions of the DRC is essential, the company reports.

The company notes that its recently announced proposed acquisition of a copper-cobalt processing plant and the sizeable off take agreement with OM Metals generates positive momentum for it, moving into 2024.

The ore purchase agreement with OM Metals outlines the use of ten 40 t trucks to transport the copper ore from Molulu to the OM Metals plant. These trucks have the capacity to deliver 10 000 t of copper ore to the OM Metals plant a month.

After securing the seven necessary road permits to use the ten trucks for transportation and receiving permission of a neighbour of the Molulu lease area to pass through their adjacent property, the first 40 t trucks arrived at Molulu with no delays in the week of November 20 to receive ore. The trucks encountered road delays on their return, but arrived and delivered copper ore to the OM Metals plant, Critical Metals reports.

As a result, after consulting with the management of OM Metals, Critical Metals made the strategic decision now, while the processing plant transaction is under due diligence and before significant deterioration of the road occurs, to further invest in the public road from the Molulu project during the election and holiday season to ensure reliable ore delivery at anticipated volumes in 2024.

These road improvements also benefit the local community and form a continuing part of Critical Metals’ programme of local stakeholder engagement.

“Our commitment to upgrading road access, alongside our notable collaboration with OM Metals and the planned acquisition of a processing plant, are pivotal steps towards scaling our business,” says Critical Metals CEO Russell Fryer.

Improvements to the road include additional grading, ground compacting, with a layer of stones to be placed in the areas of water collection and heavy usage. Such improvements include rainwater drainage points.

A road contractor has already been appointed and the time to improve the road is anticipated to take 45 days. Work on the road is scheduled to start in late December and with these new improvements, the road is expected to be useable for the remainder of the rain season, which normally ends in April.

Once the road is rehabilitated, ore sales to OM Metals can resume and Critical Metals aims to fulfil its off-take contract commitment. It is anticipated that ore sales to OM Metals will restart once the road upgrade is complete.

OM Metals has indicated they will purchase as much copper oxide ore as Molulu can produce once the road is ready for the 40 t trucks to resume deliveries.

Drilling

Molulu Project has undertaken diamond drilling in Phases 1, 2 and 4, for resource estimation of the copper-cobalt mineralisation in the area to update a Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant report.

The diamond core drilling exploration programme for Phases 1, 2 and 4 – undertaken since  July 2023 – focused on areas where highly chargeable-highly resistive anomalies from an induced polarisation gradient ground geophysical survey were previously identified.

A total of 24 drill holes have been drilled, logged and scanned using a handheld x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyser to identify mineralised zones within the core. Logging the core has indicated two types of mineralisation: rock-type-specific mineralisation hosted with the siltstone and shale, and structurally controlled mineralisation.

Critical Metals notes that areas of 29.41%, 14.59% and 8.88% copper have been intercepted using XRF. “High-grade copper mineralisation identified in most of the drilled holes, proved to be of economic potential,” the company notes.

Drilling is anticipated to restart in January 2024 with core logging, scanning XRF analysis, quality assurance and quality control, and sampling to start soon thereafter.

An extension of the drilling plan into Phase 2 and 3 is set to also start in the first quarter of 2024. The key factors to this drilling programme are to scale out the mineralised zones in all the Phases, and to get the grade, mineralogy, thickness and extent of the mineralised beds in each Phase.

He says the outcomes from our 24-drill-hole campaign have been “tremendously encouraging”, revealing high-grade copper mineralisation that underscores the “remarkable promise” of the Molulu project.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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