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China eyes cobalt

Thursday, 24th February, 2011

Cobalt ore Cobalt ore

Chinese companies are interested in cobalt deposits near the city, according to an Australian company that is about to test the size of its resource.

Broken Hill Prospecting Ltd is set to embark on an extensive drilling program at its two cobalt deposits at Thackaringa.

It will also test a third area at Thackaringa, 25km south-west of the city, as it moves toward opening a mine there. 

The two cobalt deposits at Pyrite Hill and Big Hill are estimated at 15 million tonnes, according to the company, and have a combined average grade of more than 2.1 pounds per tonne. 

The 5,000 metre drilling program will also test the newly discovered Pyrite Hill South prospect, which is not related to the other two deposits. 

"Our aim is to double the size of the resource to around 30 million tonnes at a similar grade so that we can advance the commercialisation of the project," said BPL director Mr Geoff Hill yesterday. 

Mr Hill said Chinese companies had shown interest and BPL was keen to "keep that impetus moving".

Cobalt has a range of uses including in batteries, to make super-alloys, as a hardening agents in metals and as a catalyst.

Its largest producers are in Africa. 

BPL's new drilling program will begin after a campaign of drilling on two neighbouring base metals prospects, known as Pyramid Hill and Himalaya North, is completed in coming weeks. 

According to BPL, initial logging from the drilling at Pyramid Hill showed encouraging copper mineralisation, and assay results were expected to be available next month.

The cobalt drilling, expected to last several months, is now awaiting NSW Government approval. 

Broken Hill Prospecting is one of several new companies exploring for major new mineral deposits near the famous Silver City that has produced more than

200 million tonnes of high-grade base metal ore worth an estimated $80 billion in the past 127 years.

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