As the global energy transition continues to gain momentum, Chris Stevens, CEO of Coda Minerals Ltd.discusses the possibilities of developing ethical copper and cobalt in South Australia.

Coda Minerals Ltd was founded in 2019 to research and develop high quality mineral assets to power the future with low carbon emissions.

The company, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX: COD) in 2020, and just over a year after the IPO, has provided an outstanding initial assessment of mineral resources (MRE) for one of the largest known copper-cobalt sediments in Australia. deposits. Following the publication of this MRE, Coda announced a remarkable merger that allowed it to consolidate 100% ownership of the deposit.

At the same time, Coda drew attention to the market with the emerging discovery of iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG), located next to and below this significant deposit. Since announcing this exciting discovery in mid-2021, the company has been pursuing a bold exploration program to unlock its full potential – drilling a series of +1km deep diamond holes that are typically the domain of much larger mining companies.

A unique geological environment for the development of ethical copper and cobalt in South Australia

The Gawler Craton in South Australia is known for hosting some of the largest copper deposits on Earth, including the BHP-owned Olympic Dam and the Carrapateena deposit, owned by Oz Minerals Ltd, just 40 km from the Elizabeth Project. Creek on Coda.

Coda’s land is geologically unique in that it hosts both the IOCG mineralization style and the copper-cobalt mineralization style, which is found in sediment similar to that observed in Zambia and the DRC. In the case of the Emmie system, these two styles of mineralization are stacked on top of each other. Geologists have long debated the origins of copper-cobalt mineralization, but Coda’s recent drilling seems to have answered the question: these deposits formed as part of multiple pulses of mineralizing fluid traveling through fault lines from the base rocks, leading to both IOCG and sedimentary deposits.

Simply put, Coda believes this is demonstrative of massive copper systems creating multiple deposits at varying depths in Elizabeth Creek’s possession. Coda has already discovered one of these copper systems at Emmie Bluff, and there is strong geophysical evidence for a second system on Elaine Avenue.

Strong geological foundations

Given the lack of global copper research over the last decade, it is rare to see new discoveries in the copper space, especially those leading to more than 1.1 million tonnes of copper and cobalt, according to the Australian JORC classification system. .

In December 2020, Coda announced an initial assessment of these and alleged mineral resources for the Amy Bluff deposit in Elizabeth Creek. It consists of 43Mt at 1.3% copper, 470ppm cobalt, 11g / t silver and 0.15% zinc (1.84% CuEq) (reported at a limit of 1% CuEq), containing approximately 560kt copper, 20kt cobalt5Moz silver and 15. 66kt zinc (800kt CuEq).

Of this resource, 90% of the mass and 92% of the metal contained are classified in the “Directed resource” category, the second highest level of reliability in the JORC system.

Emmie Bluff is one of three known Zambian-style copper-cobalt deposits in Elizabeth Creek, including JORC 2012-compatible listed mineral resources in Windabout (18Mt @ 1.14% CuEq) and MG14 (1.8Mt @ 1.67%). CuEq) deposits

Together, the three resources at Elizabeth Creek already contain a total of 1.1 million tonnes containing copper equivalent.

Economic research is progressing on copper-cobalt mineralization

Coda has launched preliminary scope-level studies to confirm the mining and processing methods for Emmie Bluff and the company’s other listed mineral resources in MG14 and Windabout.

As initial mining and processing studies have been substantially completed for open pit resources at MG14 and Windabout, and underground mining studies are now progressing, Coda expects to complete a full-scale study on the extent of copper-cobalt mineralization in the second half of 2022. of extended work on a feasibility study.

These studies focus not only on the technical aspects of the project, but also on the deadlines for approval, the impact on the environment and local heritage, water, electricity and the full range of ESG management systems under which the project will be developed.

Coda is also continuing research into the use of environmentally friendly copper and cobalt lexicants from its project. Work on glycine, an inert amino acid technology developed by Curtin University in Western Australia, continues. Coda defended this technology and was the first commercial organization to be licensed to use glycine for mineral processing.

The Coda team has a long history of working on these deposits and is passionate about achieving high quality results through its research work.

“We believe that Elizabeth Creek will play an important role in providing copper and cobalt, which are an integral part of achieving a low-carbon future,” said Chris Stevens, CEO of Coda.

“Every successful mine must be supported by thorough, high-quality research, undertaken and optimized by the right people. We are making great progress in this work and look forward to finalizing the first phase of the study this year. “

Ethical honey
© iStock / Ari Vidodo

Huge potential for copper and cobalt production

In addition to existing copper-cobalt resources, Coda is committed to high-quality research. In June 2020, after nearly two years of target generation work, Coda achieved copper mineralization with its first deep IOCG exploration hole.

On June 9, 2021, Coda announced that its first diamond drill hole to test the Emmie IOCG target had undergone a 200 m intensive change in IOCG, including approximately 50 m mineralization of copper sulfide. The announcement sparked a sharp rise in Coda’s share price and the launch of a large-scale exploration program aimed at identifying a significant world-class copper-gold deposit.

To date, Coda has drilled more than 15 holes in the Emmie IOCG, all but three returning significant mineralization widths, just over 3% copper and 0.5 g / t gold. The study continues as the company seeks to increase the thickness of the interceptions and to define a number of high-quality copper zones within a major geophysical anomaly.

According to Chris, the unique convergence of multiple deposits makes this an exciting opportunity: “As a company dedicated to exploration, we are happy to explore from a strong foundation. Our sedimentary copper-cobalt deposits provide us with a major asset that I believe will be part of a large, long-lasting copper-cobalt operation. Our IOCG research program focuses on world-class assets in an area that has demonstrated its ability to produce some of the largest copper deposits on Earth. We sincerely believe we have a tiger under our tail. “

Coda believes it can meet the challenge of advancing research into the development of copper-cobalt deposits and continuing the study for more copper at Elizbeth Creek. In addition, the company is also advancing on its Cameron Copper River project in the Mount Isa Inlier area of ​​Queensland, another world-famous copper region. Chris notes: “We are not afraid of hard work at Coda – our recent discoveries have given us energy in Elizabeth Creek and we see great potential in the Cameron River, where drilling is due to begin in August 2022.

Addressing the global copper shortage

CRU Group forecasts a deficit in copper supplies of six million tons per year for the next decade, with an investment of $ 100 billion needed to meet global demand for honey. To meet this expected demand, it is estimated that more than 75 new copper mines will have to go into production over the next eight years.

To further complicate the supply problem, copper grades are declining, technical complexity is increasing and, most importantly, many potential new sources of copper are located in areas with high government risk and lower ESG values.

Copper projects located in first-tier jurisdictions such as South Australia will play an increasingly important role in filling supply shortages as investors seek to fund mines with high-quality ESG accreditations capable of delivering green, ethical honey to the needs of the global energy transition.

True green credentials for South Australia, first level jurisdictions

The term ‘first level jurisdiction’ is often overused in mining; However, there is no doubt that South Australia is one of a handful of true top-level jurisdictions for mineral exploration around the world.

Home to some of the world’s largest miners and researchers, including BHP and Oz Minerals, South Australia recently recruited smaller researchers to undertake research activities in the energy transition and critical space for minerals.

This is crucial for the future of mineral supplies, as traditionally larger miners are reluctant to allocate significant funds to local and brownfield sites. The junior research sector is the lifeblood of discovery, and a whole new generation of researchers is beginning to take South Australia seriously.

One of the main reasons for South Australia’s success as a jurisdiction is its powerful ESG and renewable energy data. These forward-looking policies make the prospect of developing new low-impact, carbon-neutral mines an extremely attractive proposition for the next generation of miners.

Chris commented: “South Australia is a really great place to explore for critical minerals and do business. Extremely promising geology, combined with proactive and responsive government regulation, makes it an extremely attractive place for researchers like Coda.

As a member of the Minister’s Executive Advisory Committee (MEAC), which advises the SA government on energy and critical minerals policy, Chris has first-hand experience with green energy powers in South Australia. South Australia is one of the most advanced places in the world and is at the forefront of the global energy transition. The energy system has been transformed from 1% to 60% renewable in the last 15 years and is expected to reach net zero by 2030.

Chris added: “This is extremely important for companies that want to develop mines to meet global demands for a transition to green energy, as any energy mix between the solar system and the grid will probably be zero for the rest of my life.

“Coda Minerals is well placed to be at the forefront of the South Australian mineral industry as it continues its research and development work on the Elizabeth Creek Copper project.”

Please note that this article will also appear in the tenth edition of ours quarterly publication.

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Developing ethical copper and cobalt in South Australia

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