Alma not scoping partnerships as Briggs studies begin 

Alma Metals (ASX:ALM) is unlikely to consider further partnership deals as it completes a Scoping Study for its Briggs Copper Project in Queensland, says Managing Director Frazer Tabeart.  

Speaking to Mining.com.au on the sidelines of the Brisbane Mining and Investors Conference in Queensland last week, Tabeart says the company is at the point “where all the value addition in the next 3 to 5 years will come from us, it doesn’t need anyone else”.

“We’ve got the skill sets in-house, both from a technical point of view on the style of copper mineralisation. And our management teams had experience in development projects and have association with other companies. 

Right now we’re going through the same sort of development curve for a couple of years ahead of us. We don’t need any partners at this stage and maybe we won’t in the future.”

On 4 July 2022, Alma exercised its option to begin an earn-in JV at Briggs. Under the terms of the JV with owner Canterbury Resources (ASX:CBY), Alma can ultimately reach a 70% ownership through completed staged exploration and evaluation programs. Alma currently has a minority (30%) interest in the JV. 

The MD says the Scoping Study will be a focus in H2 2024, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. This will be followed by further drilling into the PFS, after which he says it could be 18-24 months before the company launches into a DFS.

“The DFS … should probably take another couple of years, so I think we will be close to an investment decision in 5 years from now and then to build this operation.

There’s over a million tonnes of copper metal already defined in that deposit, with every likelihood that [it] will double or triple in size with further drilling.

And we’ve got quite a lot of evidence to support that size increase and that it could substantiate a 30 million tonnes per annum mining operation, subject to growing that scale through the exploration and getting some positive scoping studies and feasibility studies. 

It’s in the top ten of large undeveloped copper projects in Australia. It’s got significant size potential.”

Tabeart tells Mining.com.au being located only 60km west from the industrial hub of Gladstone, which houses a range of industrial skilled work, export terminals, and smelting and refining capabilities, he expects “much lower” capital costs for the project. 

“There’s an opportunity of much lower starting capital costs to build a project because you’re not going to have to build a railway or a road or a power line, and we’re not going to have to build a port or a loading facility because there’s a big existing port in Gladstone that’s got plenty of available space for a proper export operation. 

Ultimately, this has a massive impact down the track in lowering upfront capital costs. It’ll also lower operating costs because we’re only having to move the product 60km or 70km, not 400km to 500km. 

From an exploration point of view, it just means it’s quick and easy to get on the project. I can fly into Gladstone, pick up a car at the airport and be on the project in an hour. It’s easy to get to.”

Throw in Tabeart’s current sentiments surrounding the future fundamentals of the copper market and voila, the company and its project are in the “right place, at the right time”.

“This is a project of significant scale where there’s already existing infrastructure. So a lot of the impediments to development don’t exist. 

People have always thought this project was too low grade, but because of that good infrastructure and the potential benefits of scale here, we believe there’s a scenario where this could make a very significant amount of money in the right copper market. 

And to us, the copper market is very much heading in that direction. So we think it’s going to be pretty robust for the next 20 years. Projects of this scale are exactly what is required to deliver into.”

Alma Metals is a copper-focused explorer with assets in Western Australia and Queensland. 

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au 

Images: Alma Metals
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.