Coda Minerals to push ahead with studies on $577m copper and cobalt project in SA

Coda Minerals says its Elizabeth Creek copper and cobalt project in the heart of South Australia’s copper mining belt would cost $577m to build and would generate more than $5.7bn over its life (reports The Australian).

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The company on Thursday released a scoping study into the project, saying it could develop the project in two phases, with a $277m first phase generating cashflow from a copper and cobalt concentrate.

A second phase costed at $320m, to be developed in the third year of operations, would involve building a hydrometallurgical plant producing high value products such as copper cathode, battery-grade cobalt sulphate, zine carbonate and silver.

Coda says the payback period for the project would be 4.75 years, and over the project’s 14 year mine life it was expected to generate $5.73bn in revenue.

The ore would be mined from two open pits and a long-life underground mine, producing 25,000 tonnes of copper per year and about 1000 tonnes of cobalt.

Coda also said exploration work was continuing, testing deeper iron ore copper gold mineralisation - the host rock for the nearby Olympic Dam mine - however that was not incorporated into the current study.

The Elizabeth Creek project is 100km south of BHP’s Olympic Dam copper, gold and

uranium mine and 50km west of OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper-gold project.

The company said the scoping study indicated the project had “compelling financial metrics’’, and the board had given the go-ahead for the next stage prefeasibility study.

“This study underpins a robust go-forward case for the Elizabeth Creek project with excellent project economics,’’ chief executive Chris Stevens said.

“We also have multiple opportunities for expansion and improvement underway.

“Recent geophysical work has defined several highly prospective expansion targets for the sediment-hosted copper-cobalt mineralisation at Emmie Bluff which have the potential to increase project size and scope beyond the already excellent 14 year mine life.

“In addition to exploration, we continue to focus on optimisation of the integrated mine plans, opportunities from XRF ore sorting, as well as our study into the potential use of mechanical cutting techniques at Emmie Bluff.’’

Mr Stevens said this work had the potential to result in a material financial uplift and reduction in geotechnical risk and ventilation at the project.

The scoping study envisaged conventional open-pit and underground mining techniques, coupled with a conventional flotation and downstream processing system.

“The project is well supported for infrastructure and boasts excellent ESG credentials, being located in a stable, tier-1 mining jurisdiction with access to the nation’s most renewable power grid,’’ Coda said.

The scoping study anticipates the PFS being finished by mid-2024, followed by a bankable feasibility study leading to a final investment decision in mid-2025.

Mr Stevens said the IOCG system which Coda discovered in mid-2021 also presented an exciting further opportunity.

“Although the deeper IOCG mineralisation has not been included in this study, the exploration for a tier-1 IOCG continues,’’ he said.

“This search has been enlivened by the success of our recent geophysical survey, with further exciting results expected from the tight spaced gravity work currently underway.’’

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