Copper cathode production company Austral Resources (ASX:AR1) has mapped out a fortuitous 2023 following its achievement of a record sales revenue of $12.6 million in January this year.
The record sales revenue rivals the company’s success in 2022 and was achieved following production rates hitting 1,003 tonnes at its Anthill Project, which lies within the greater Lady Annie Project in Queensland.
Austral adds it remains focused on maintaining these deliverables of 1000 tonnes of production a month, and that it will focus on spending this money to reduce debt, as well as further advance and extend its exploration.
“There’s no one doing what we’re doing…the infrastructure that we’ve got enables us to look at other opportunities with oxide potential in and around the area.”
Speaking to Mining.com.au, Austral Resources Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director Dan Jauncey says this achievement comes during a time in which copper is in dire need to fuel the world’s transition into net zero carbon emissions, and to supply the growing demand for green energy appliances.
Adding on to this, Jauncey told this news service Austral has recorded this achievement amidst a challenging period of time, in which the company had to overcome an unprecedented wet season that is wreaking havoc within Queensland’s Mt Isa Inlier, and on the company’s operations.
The CEO says, with this milestone achieved at Anthill, the company is now a ‘big dog’ in the yard, and that it is truly ‘unique’ due to the production of its own copper cathode product.
“We’re fortunate for us that copper is tracking in the direction it is with decarbonisation and electrification, and the fact that there is a shortage of copper at the moment, so timing for us is everything and is really fortuitous.
There’s no one doing what we’re doing…the infrastructure that we’ve got enables us to look at other opportunities with oxide potential in and around the area. There are other organisations out there producing copper through a tolling arrangement predominantly with sulphides, but as far as producing a metal that’s 99.9% pure, we’re the only guys out there doing that.
We’re certainly very unique in the fact that we have our own infrastructure and we produce our own copper cathode.
The focus for us now is to continue maintaining those deliverables, and where the money will be spent from here is 2-part. One is back into the ground in exploration. We’ve got a very robust campaign this year. You know we’ve got a budget of over $7 million and we really intend to get after the opportunities we’ve got. The other part of our focus is, with the fact we have cash coming back in, is debt reduction. We are really focused this year on extending mine work through exploration, and reducing debt.
“We are really focused this year on extending mine work through exploration, and reducing debt.”
It’s a really good spot for us at the moment, and like I said our focus is on continuing to delivery on what we wanted a couple of months earlier by hitting that 1000 tonne a month, maintaining the revenue stream, and on top of that continuing our focus on our exploration campaign so that we can go back to investors and say that we have extended our mine life. That would really take us from being a little dog into a ‘big dog’ category if we can turn this thing from a 4 year mine life into a 10 year mine life.”
Current copper economics play to Austral’s advantage
Jauncey adds the company’s achievement comes at a time in which the current trading price of copper has increased, following China (one of the biggest consumers of copper) opening its doors again for trading.
“If you look at the drivers as to why copper has started to lift, China coming back online and being one of the biggest consumers of copper, them opening their doors for trade again has played a big part in the uptake in copper.”
The company is also planning to undertake another potential joint venture (JV) in conjunction with its current JV alongside Swiss multinational and globally diversified mining giant Glencore (LON:GLEN), he says.
“We are talking to 3 Australian-based companies in particular on JV opportunities that are not necessarily just in and around or processing facility…we’ve already got a joint venture with Glencore and that is in relation to the JV we did about 6 months ago, which was about $6.3 million expenditure with Glencore over the next 4 years on a small portion of our tenement package.”
No plans on slowing down in 2023
In addition, in line with the company’s plan to extend mine life and exploration, Jauncey notes it will commence an ‘extensive’ drilling campaign across 20 prospects held within its exploration portfolio.
It is reported that its Busy Bee target in particular currently has exposed copper anomalies that boast copper (Cu) grades up to up to 16%.
“We’ve really split it [drilling] into two parts, oxides and sulphides, and we’re really getting after the ones that are closest to our processing facility. We have 120 in total that we already know of and we have witted that down what will likely give us potential both from our oxide and sulphide.
“The 20 in question are all relatively close to our process facility, and one of the targets we are chasing is Busy Bee, and it’s exposed copper anomalies up to 16% Cu.”
The 20 in question are all relatively close to our process facility, and one of the targets we are chasing is Busy Bee, and it’s exposed copper anomalies up to 16% Cu.
We cannot get drill rigs out there quick enough, but the wet weather is playing havoc right now. Photos demonstrate it is an exposed anomaly just sitting there so the guys are very keen to focus on one of those. We will be drilling, subject to weather, by March 1 2023.”
Drilling will comprise about 22,500m of drilling and has an exploration and development expenditure of $7 million.
Meanwhile, Jauncey also notes the company is close to finalising the first part of a scoping study being undertaken at the Lady Colleen deposit, and, pending on finalisation of numbers, will deliver double the amount of the current revenue stream.
Austral Resources is an ASX-listed company located in Queensland Gulf country, with a mission of delivering a first-class product and service that is recognised and sought-after worldwide from its portfolio of exploration and production tenements.
Images: Austral Resources Australia Ltd