Cobalt explorer Aus Tin Mining (ASX: ANW) has struck thick cobalt and nickel intersections during its drilling program at its 100%-owned Mt Cobalt project near Gympie in Queensland.
Assays from four holes drilled at the project in late 2017 returned a 28.15m wide intersection grading 0.29% cobalt and 0.73% nickel.
The intersection comprised two high grade intervals 6.65m at 0.45% cobalt and 0.89% nickel, and a 2.7m interval containing 0.74% cobalt and 0.89% nickel.
“It was pleasing to generate another high cobalt grade intersection, which confirms Mt Cobalt as one of the higher-grade cobalt targets in Australia,” Aus Tin Mining chief executive officer Peter Williams said.
Drilling started in early December to test extensions to the project’s historic cobalt and manganese mine where a 7m wide lode produced an average 7.5% cobalt.
The 28.15m thick intersection was drilled 130 from the historic mine.
According to Aus Tin Mining, its recent assays, combined with its 2016 drill results, which uncovered 7m grading 0.84% cobalt and 0.83% nickel from 29m, place the company in a comparable position to other Australian cobalt projects.
Additionally, the company claimed a drill sludge sample for one of the other four holes returned silver up to 247 grams per tonne. Aus Tin Mining also reported that fines washed from drill core during the recovery process and obtained in the sludge have revealed higher cobalt grades than those in the actual assayed core.
Early this month, Aus Tin Mining finished 95.4m of drilling and identified mineralisation in each hole.
“With a funded program, the company will accelerate its exploration efforts at Mt Cobalt in 2018 and, in the coming months, intends to undertake additional drilling targeting the enriched cobalt-manganese mineralisation and evaluate the potential nickel-cobalt sulphide target,” Mr Williams stated.
“In addition, we will undertake regional exploration including targeting cobalt mineralisation at the nearby Pembroke, Tablelands, Ridley and Jackson North prospects,” he added.
He said the company would also develop a detailed 3D magnetic model of its existing data for Mt Cobalt to identify further drill targets.
Cobalt price pushes higher
The cobalt price has pushed even higher the past week to hit US$80,500 a tonne on the 19 January. Powering the increase is rising demand from the growing lithium-ion battery sector and the Democratic Republic of Congo Government’s proposal to increase cobalt royalties to 3.5%.
Under the DRC’s new mining code, if the cobalt becomes classified a “strategic” metal then the royalty could be hiked to 5%.
With around 60% of the world’s cobalt supply arising out of the region, this places a lot of DRC miners at risk of losing profits, or worse.
The DRC’s tax hike has shone the spot light on other supply sources including the myriad of cobalt explorers on the ASX.
Aus Tin Mining has benefitted from the shift in supply focus and soaring cobalt price with its own share price surging 118% from A$0.011 on 10th January to to A$0.024 in mid-day trade – up 20% today alone.