Cobalt Blue (ASX:COB) has announced that ore extraction is underway at its Pyrite Hill deposit to feed its demonstration plant located within the Broken Hill project in New South Wales, with further commissioning to follow.
The company reports that decline development has been completed with the first 1,000 tonnes of ore being delivered to surface for processing.
A staged commissioning of the site concentrator will soon begin, while new large-scale kiln and sulphur recovery equipment has already been received to complete plant construction in Broken Hill.
Ongoing works will focus on finalisation of the process control system.
Speaking on the recent progress, Cobalt Blue’s Chief Executive Officer, Joe Kaderavek said: “Mining/crushing operations are now underway with progressive commissioning across the flowsheet to follow.
We anticipate the demonstration plant will deliver over 3,000 kilograms of cobalt products from June – November, providing technical validation of our processing technology, product quality and underpinning project investment.”
“WE EXPECT SIGNIFICANT COMMERCIAL INTEREST OVER 2H 2022”
The company notes that the demonstration plant comprises two phases of operation. Firstly, mined ore will be crushed, milled, and treated to produce a cobalt-pyrite concentrate at the Pyrite Hill site.
Secondly, the concentrate will then be trucked to the demonstration plant in Broken Hill for extraction and recovery of cobalt as mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (MHP) and/or cobalt sulphate.
A total of 3,500-4,000 tonnes of ore will be mined from Pyrite Hill to support 20 weeks of continuous operation of the demonstration plant.
About 78m of planned development remains including:
- a 48m of cross strike development targeting intersection of the deposit footwall; and,
- a 30m of strike parallel development
The multi-stage crushing plant has been mobilised to site. To date, some 900 tonnes of ore to -20mm has been processed and screened, with about 40% passing -4mm being directly forwarded to the plant for final milling, reducing the ore feed to a ‘desired particle size’ of -1mm.
Cobalt Blue says crushing operations will continue with recirculation of oversize material and processing of remaining ore tonnes as mining progresses.
In Broken Hill, installation is continuing in readiness for delivery of the first batch of concentrate from Pyrite Hill.
The Pyrite Hill deposit extends over 1.2km along strike, over 300m down dip and varies in thickness from 10-100 metres. The remaining development at Pyrite Hill is planned to extract material from about 40-50m below surface where the orebody demonstrates an apparent thickness of about 65m.
Mineralisation at the deposit is hosted by a quartz-albite gneiss, which is a common and widely distributed type of metamorphic rock, and is characterised by the presence of disseminated pyrite concentrated parallel to primary foliation.
The project is the genesis of Cobalt Blue’s strategy to participate in the strong growth of the lithium-ion battery market.
Unlike the traditional cobalt mining model, Cobalt Blue has implemented an integrated refinery model capable of delivering first an intermediate Mixed Hydroxide product (MHP), which subsequently can be further refined into battery grade cobalt sulphate.
Images: Cobalt Blue Holdings Ltd