Australian exploration company Jervois Mining (ASX:JRV) has kicked off an initial 2,000 metre diamond core drilling program at its Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) in the US to supply metallurgical samples for testwork to support the project’s updated feasibility study.
Drilling will target the main lens of the Ram deposit for samples and test the existence of footwall lenses at depth and already present in the southern areas of the mineral-rich Idaho cobalt belt.
Ram contains 100% of the ICO’s current resource and reserves estimate and accounts for approximately 7% of the 24.24 square kilometre land package.
The program will be followed by an infill campaign of up to 3,400m, funded by an approved and additional US$1 million in costs as part of the feasibility budget.
The campaign will aim to reduce the spacing between existing drill hole intercepts, supply ore for future testwork and explore the footwall at Ram to test a geological model recently defined through structural conceptual modelling.
It will target the existing resource model within initial ore source areas envisaged in the first years of the mining at Idaho and is designed to increase the level of geological confidence from these areas.
Once drilling ends in October, Jervois will produce an updated resource model to feed into mine planning for the updated study, due for release in March 2020.
The ICO (formerly the Idaho cobalt project) comprises a high-grade cobalt-copper deposit and partially-completed mine site and mill in Lemhi County.
Located on national forest lands where exploration activities are subject to environmental regulations and requirements, the mine and mill site has been fully environmentally permitted with an approved plan of operations.
Jervois has secured a new site in southern Idaho for a planned downstream cobalt refinery and purchased pre-fabricated buildings for the project however the plan is subject to further study and permitting.
Significant pre-works have already been completed at the ICO site to the tune of approximately US$100 million.
Milling equipment has been purchased and an advanced water treatment plant and control wells have been installed.
Main power substation and power lines have been extended to the portal bench and concentrator facilities, with access to competitive grid power connected last year.
Major civil and earthworks including concrete foundations for the concentrator were also progressed in 2018.
Chief executive officer Bryce Crocker said the ICO is “strategically positioned” to take advantage of a forecast improvement in the cobalt market, as US demand for super alloys continues to grow and electrification of the global transportation industry accelerates.
“[We are] excited to lead construction of the only domestic cobalt mine supply in the US [and] a significant and important development for the security and surety of future metal supply,” he said in the company’s June quarterly.
“As an Australian company, [we] believe the project should be advanced into production as quickly as possible, not only for economic reasons, but also for the benefit of both countries’ collective national security.”
At midday, shares in Jervois were steady at $0.195.