Positive results buoy explorer
Monday, 24th September, 2018
By Callum Marshall
Copper and cobalt prospects within the Broken Hill region have received a boost following positive rock chip samples across seven local mining tenements.
The Mt Brown, Mt Brown Creek, Yalcowinna Creek, Parnallaroo, Smiths Well, Manola and Copper Blow sites have all returned positive copper and cobalt values for the company Silver City Minerals.
While out at Copper Blow’s drilling location, Managing Director of Silver City Minerals Chris Torrey said the results would bring greater local attention to copper and cobalt exploration.
“You think of Broken Hill as a lead, zinc and silver province. What we’re seeing is, in fact, important copper prospects around that really have not had very much attention paid to them in the past,” he said.
“Copper Blow is just one example. We had more information on it (than the other sites), that’s why we got to the stage of drilling.
“But there are a whole series of copper and cobalt prospects around Broken Hill, not just here in the south but the east, that really need more detailed attention with respect to mineral exploration and assessment.”
The copper and cobalt discoveries are significant because of the potential they could provide for new technologies and energy storage.
“Cobalt and lithium are being used for storage in batteries, lithium particularly in the light weight ones,” said Mr Torrey.
“If you see the projected demand for electric cars and all these people who are making them then you’re going to need a lot more of these batteries.
“An electric car needs something like six times the amount of copper wire than an ordinary car. If the electric vehicles are going to rise in sales exponentially then you’re going to have this demand for cobalt and a huge demand for copper.
“We’re looking for both of those things out here and both their prices are holding up, in fact I think the copper price went up just recently. They are good elements to keep looking for.”
Although both copper and cobalt had great value for new technologies, Mr Torrey said they were focused on other elements such as Zinc as well.
“We can discover minerals and elements in the Broken Hill area that will service the new technologies,” said Mr Torrey.
“Having said that, we’re still interested in zinc because it’s not particularly recyclable. Zinc is mainly used in galvanizing and we can’t recycle galvanized zinc products, we don’t get the zinc back from those products. So zinc in itself is another important element you can find in the district.
“The other thing is if you don’t need electric cars but you need energy storage of some sort then you can get zinc-bromide batteries. They’re not little tiny things, they’re actually big and can be used in a factory or something like that.
“So what you’re seeing is the zinc price is holding up as well because there’s actually a lot of zinc going out of production with big mines closing down. So there’s going to be a shortfall of zinc and it’s going to continue to be used.
“On the one hand there are the new technologies coming along for electric vehicles and energy storage but some of these older elements like zinc are still being used and they can be used for energy storage as well.”
In regards to Copper Blow and the company’s fascination with the site, old BHP-Shell reports helped highlight its significance.
“What really attracted us was we dug back into old reports that were written by a BHP-Shell joint venture dating back to around 1988,” said Mr Torrey.
“They had intersected in one of their (drill) holes a spectacular copper intersection of 11 or 12 metres of 6.7 per cent copper.
“That core is actually stored in the core library in Broken Hill so we went and looked at it and, sure enough, it was a spectacular mineralisation. We basically said ‘we’ll go and test this (at the site) and see how extensive it is.’”
Mr Torrey said the company explored a 1200 square kilometre area around Broken Hill and that it was no surprise there had been extensive mining across the region’s history.
“Broken Hill is a fabulously mineralised belt of rock, and it’s not just lead, zinc and silver but it’s clearly other things that have been mined in the past like feldspar and magnetite and various sorts of elements over a long history of time,” he said.
“There’s something like 400 old workings and occurrences in the immediate area around Broken Hill, all within a 25 kilometre radius.
“That shows there’s lots of mineralisation, (that) it’s a prolific belt because of the nature of the land out here.”
Despite the sites’ encouraging results, Mr Torrey said further work needed to be done before they could ascertain how significant the copper and cobalt discoveries were.
“We need to do a lot more work, we’ll have to do a lot more geological mapping and sample checking before we have a really good feel for what we’ll do next,” he said.
“If the sample that has high-grade copper in it is from an outcrop that’s very small then it may not even be worth following up.
“We’ve (also) seen zones with mineralisation, or evidence of mineralisation, that might extend (to) over a kilometre.
“So we have to go and see how extensive they are (which means) more sampling, more mapping and more geophysics before we actually drill.”