Anax kicks off studies into Whim Creek production hub

Anax Metals (ASX:ANX) is investigating the potential to build a 20,000-tonne-per-annum copper equivalent production hub in Western Australia’s Pilbara to service its own Whim Creek Project as well as other surrounding base metals projects. 

The company, which has a majority 80% interest in partnership with Develop Global (ASX:DVP), has begun a Scoping Study to investigate the feasibility of transporting oxide ore from Develop’s 100% owned Sulphur Springs deposit to Whim Creek.

The ore would be heap leached to produce saleable copper and zinc products.

An earlier Definitive Feasibility Study for the Whim Creek project has already demonstrated a technically and economically robust polymetallic project and strategic processing hub development in the Pilbara, Anax says.

This was followed up by a heap leach Scoping Study that produced copper and zinc recoveries of 80% and 90%, respectively, from low grade sulphide ore. 

The Whim Creek project is forecast to produce an average of 12,000 tonnes of copper equivalent material each year, comprising 62,000 tonnes of copper, 97,000t of zinc and 20,000t of lead over an eight-year mine-life.

By heap leaching, which is slated to begin in the second year of the project and cost less than $10 million in additional capital spend, Anax estimates it can add an extra $71 million to its free cashflow, boosting the project’s total free cashflow to $411 million. 

The internal rate of return and net present value would also receive a boost to 55.3% and $270 million respectively. 

“We look forward to establishing a Pilbara Base Metal Alliance for several regional base metal projects to potentially participate in near term production planned for Whim Creek,”  Managing Director Geoff Laing says. 

“A centralised processing hub capable of treating a range of base metal ores within the Pilbara region, producing battery metal and agricultural products, will deliver significant value to Anax and alliance partners.”

Anax has also received a number of non-binding debt-funding proposals for the Whim Creek project from both commodity traders and mining funds, which are currently being reviewed.

On the exploration front, the company is prioritising resource growth at the Evelyn and Salt Creek deposits.

“In addition to the ongoing study work, Anax is planning a renewed focus on the immediate resource growth potential at our high-grade Evelyn and Salt Creek resources, both of which are open at depth,” Laing says. 

The massive sulphide Evelyn deposit is located 25km south of the proposed Whim Creek processing facility and previously returned top drill hits of 13m @ 4.46% copper, 3.1% zinc, 45 grams per tonne (g/t) silver and 1.61g/t gold from 204m.

Anax says the copper content appears to increase at depth, with the company set to target resource extensions below the previous high-grade intercepts. 

Write to Angela East at Mining.com.au 

Images: Anax Metals
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Written By Angela East
Managing Editor Angela East is an experienced business journalist and editor with over 15 years spent covering the resources and construction sectors and more recently working as a communications specialist handling media relations for junior resources companies.