Pioneer Resources (ASX: PIO) has been granted the go-ahead to develop the Sinclair caesium deposit into a mine at its wholly-owned Pioneer Dome project in Western Australia’s eastern goldfields.
The company today announced it had received approval from the Department of Mines, Industrial Relations and Safety for the Sinclair mining proposal, including the mine plan and mine closure plan, as well as the project management plan.
Pioneer’s preferred mining contractor has been notified and is now working to firm up dates for the commencement of mining.
“The company will complete final documentation with the state and contractors, and work to a commencement of mining operation start date during the September quarter,” Pioneer managing director David Crook said.
According to the company, ground preparation and the establishment of infrastructure is expected to begin in August. This work will include the construction of site access, the mobilisation of site buildings, site clearing, soil stockpiles and first blast drilling.
The mobilisation of the mine fleet has been scheduled for September.
Australia’s first discovered caesium deposit
In early 2017, Pioneer discovered Australia’s first caesium deposit (in the mineral ‘pollucite’) at the Sinclair Zone prospect. This prospect is located within the company’s 100% owned Pioneer Dome project, which is also prospective for lithium and tantalum.
Pollucite is a rare mineral of caesium, a silvery alkali metal, and only forms in extremely differentiated zones of lithium-caesium-tantalum pegmatite systems.
It is primarily used is in the manufacture of caesium formate brine, to be used as an additive to drilling fluids in high pressure oil and gas drilling.
There are only two other commercial-sized pollucite deposits in the world – the Bikita mine in Zimbabwe and the Tanco mine in Canada.
In March 2017, Pioneer announced a maiden mineral resource estimate for Sinclair of 10,500 tonnes of the caesium ore ‘pollucite’ with a grade of 17.1% caesium oxide.
Last month, the company entered into a binding offtake and loan facility deal with Canada’s Cabot Corporation (which runs the Tanco mine) for the sale and purchase of 100% of direct shipping pollucite ore extracted from the proposed Sinclair mine.
Under the agreement, Cabot will provide an interest-free US$4.8 million loan to Pioneer to put towards the development and mining costs of the Sinclair mine. The loan will be repaid through the delivery of the pollucite ore, or by cash settlement.
Pioneer stock rose 10% to A$0.022 on the news by midday trade.