Nuggets Galore from the Local Resources Sector

While investor attention remains focused on inflation and interest rates, activity continues to burble on across Australia’s resources sector. here’s some news from around the traps.


The big guys are taking care of business while the medium and small players – often punters and some of the people who were in front of the green minerals push (AKA the first and second lithium booms) are checking out new bits of ground, doing deals with each other and in several cases, going over all ground and finding new joy.

One of those companies revisiting the past is Cyprium Metals, which has been looking again at the well-worked and -drilled Nifty copper region in the eastern deserts of WA’s Patterson province which is on its way to being confirmed as one of the hottest areas in Australian mining.

This week, Cyprium revealed a boost in the contained copper content at the old Nifty mine to 940,200 tonnes.

That was from the 2019 figure of 658,500 tonnes (47.29 million tonnes of ore at 1.39% copper).

Telfer, Havieron, Winu and Nifty have ignited or rather re-ignited interest in this huge area of desert.

Nifty was one of the earliest discoveries in the area in 1980 by Western Mining after the old Newmont’s Telfer prospect became a goer in 1977. Telfer is now owned by Newcrest (the descendant of BHP Gold) and its Havieron prospect (held with Greatland Gold of London) and associated discoveries are now slowly being turned into one, large mining centre.

The Nifty mine is located on the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert, approximately 330 kilometres southeast of Port Hedland.

Nifty is the sixth largest development project in Australia, ranked by contained copper metal, but has the highest grade and is the only project being developed in the near term, according to Cyprium.

Nifty has had at least five owners since 1980 and the mine has been worked intermittently over the years, closing and re-opening with different owners. In 2019 it was placed on a care and maintenance basis but was later picked up by Cyprium Metals is now moving towards a two-stage revitalisation plan.

Past mining of the Nifty deposit was by open pit and by underground methods. In the first phase of the production restart, Cyprium is planning to transition back into open pit mining with the production of copper metal via heap leach, SX-EW processing technologies following a refurbishment of the existing facility.

A fully functioning 2.8 million tonnes a year flotation concentrator is located on site in a care and maintenance state and can treat the deeper sulphide mineralisation.

Cyprium says drilling programs confirmed copper mineralisation was still open to the southeast and west of the main mining areas.

The operation is currently transitioning from a care and maintenance regime into an open pit mining re-start.

Cyprium managing director Barry Cahill said the increase in the contained copper metal for Nifty was significant.

“Once again, this demonstrates the quality and scale of the Nifty deposit, which remains open. The updated MRE provides additional copper metal inventory for the Nifty phase 1 oxide copper project and underpins a potential open pit mine-life of greater than 20 years,” he said this week.

“Further assay results from the Nifty east drilling program, which targeted the shallower oxide zone of the deposit, are expected to further extend the Nifty phase 1 oxide mine-life,” Cahill said.


Further south in WA, Galileo Mining has stirred the market with news confirming a possible significant palladium-platinum discovery at its Norseman prospect – the region is better known for gold and nickel.

The excitement has come from three separate strikes in a single drill hole from 144 metres to 177 metres, holding out the possibility that there could be a significant area of mineralisation about 140 to 200 metres below the surface

Galileo revealed a 33-metre intersection at two grams to the tonne (g/t) of 3E minerals (palladium, platinum and gold) in one drill hole from 144 metres. That comprised 1.64 g/t palladium, 0.28 g/t platinum and 0.09 g/t gold. Assays of 0.32% copper and 0.30% nickel was also found in the same hole.

This intersection was located within a wider 55-metre disseminated sulphide zone from 121 to 186 metres, suggesting the presence of a larger mineralised system.

Galileo also hit 6 metres at 2.69 g/t 3E, 0.41% copper and 0.36% nickel from 159 metres, as well as 1 metre at 3.21 g/t 3E, 0.48 per cent copper and 0.46 per cent nickel from 176 metres.

Galileo managing director Brad Underwood said in the ASX statement the discovery highlighted Norseman’s growing potential.

“This an exceptional result from our Norseman project and with every drill hole undertaken so far intersecting mineralisation, we are hopeful that the initial drill hole will translate into a high-quality resource for mining,” he said.

“While we are at an early stage in the discovery process, the thick and consistent zone of mineralisation, and the extensive prospective strike length, suggests the potential for a large mineralised system.”

Galileo has named the prospect Callisto, and has drilled six holes so far.

“In addition to Callisto, we also have multiple platinum group elements-nickel-copper targets at our Jimberlana and Mission Sill prospects to the south that offer new opportunities for further discoveries,” he said.

“Galileo remains fully funded with $8.2 million at the end of the March quarter and able to continue aggressive exploration programs at all our projects.”

Assays from a further five drill holes are pending, while more sampling is taking place from the single NRC266 hole.

Well known WA prospector Mark Creasy owns a 24.6% stake and IGO owns 8.9% – which puts it in the box seat to snap up the company if the prospect is proved up.


Meanwhile, in addition to this week’s headline grabbing deal with Havilah Resources, OZ Minerals has teamed up with Resolution Minerals to explore for base metals at the latter’s Benmara project in the Northern Territory.

The Havilah deal covers that company’s copper prospect near the SA-NSW border at Kalkaroo and could cost OZ $US205 million in total in 2011.

It has to be remembered that OZ paid $250 million for the Carapateena depsoit in South Australia which is now its latest mine.

That was a known deposit – but of unknown size and extent (it is much larger and prospective than originally thought.

  The resolution deal is far more tradition – a farm-in and joint venture agreement that might end up going nowhere.

Under it OZ Minerals can earn up to 75% in Benmara. To earn a 51% interest in Benmara, OZ must spend $1 million over an initial two-year period, and a further $3 million across the ensuing three years.

If OZ Minerals reaches this point, a Benmara joint venture agreement will be formed. If the company doesn’t satisfy the $4 million spend within the five-year period, Resolution will retain a 100% interest in Benmara.

Resolution may keep 49% of the project if it elects to participate from year six. If not, OZ Minerals can earn a 75% interest in Benmara by spending $1 million per year over a further five-year period and deliver a positive final investment decision.

Resolution CEO Christine Lawley said the agreement highlighted the company’s exploration efforts.

“The new farm-in and JV (joint venture) agreement with OZ Minerals is validation of Resolution’s exploration strategy, which identified the potential for large-scale base metal deposits analogous to the world-class McArthur River mine in this under-explored region during the 2021 field season,” she said.

“In particular, the results of our 2021 RC (reverse circulation) drilling program and air-borne VTEM (versatile time domain electromagnetic) geophysics survey identified large-scale untested conductors and thick packages of up to 200m thick reductive shale units.

“These results proved the Benmara project has a geological setting equivalent to other regional deposits such as the McArthur River mine, Walford Creek and the Century mine.”

This is the second agreement OZ Minerals has established with Resolution in the Northern Territory. In August 2021, the Adelaide-based miner did a deal to explore the Wollogorang copper project.

These are standard JV/farm-in deals but they show that despite heavy spending on Prominent Hill and Carapateena and the looking decision on West Musgrave, Oz Minerals is looking up to a decade or more ahead.

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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