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Craton drilling results bring bonus

The Douglas mineral sands project has been valued at about $100 million on an output of 150,000 tonnes of concentrate annually.

Results of the latest round of drilling are also expected to substantially increase the resource estimate of the project currently undergoing a pre-feasibility study by Craton Resources NL.

The Perth-based company has acknowledged what it described as the “biggest coarse-grained mineral sands resource” so far discovered in the region.

Craton managing director Brad Farrell said drilling at the Douglas project had yielded an initial inferred resource base of 11.3 million tonnes of heavy minerals, including a contained 7.5mt of valuable heavy minerals, rutile, zircon, ilmenite and leucoxene.

“We expect a substantial increase in our first inferred resource estimate,” Dr Farrell told Business News.

Craton – which operates the project through its 100 per cent owned subsidiary Basin Minerals NL – expects four nearby deposits it has classified as “emerging resources” to at least double current figures within a few months.

The current inferred resources are at the eleven kilometre long Bondi strandline (7.6mt heavy mineral concentrate) and the twelve kilometre long Echo strandline (3.7mt heavy mineral concentrate), the most advanced of the project deposits

“These and our other discoveries represent a new mineral sands field of potential global significance,” Dr Farrell said.

The pre-feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in the September quarter of this year.

To rapidly advance the project, Craton has entered into technical and strategic alliances with Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings Ltd, Australia’s largest project development and contracting group; and with heavy engineering group Evans Deakin Ltd’s subsidiary, MD Mineral Technologies.

MD Mineral is the world’s leading designer and supplier of gravity separation plants and equipment and has extensive worldwide metallurgical expertise in mineral sands.

Leighton and MD Mineral are participating in a programme to produce a pre-feasibility on a significantly expanded resource base to determine a pathway to final feasibility and development.

Dr Farrell said, while neither Leighton nor MD Mineral had any equity in Craton or the Douglas project, “the alliance represents a prelude to their possible future involvement in the project via financing, construction and long-term contractual opportunities, such as mining and mineral processing”.

Significantly, the area surrounding the Douglas project is also predominantly freehold and not subject to native title claims.

The project is located near Horsham, about 150km from a deepwater port at Portland. The Murray Basin straddles the Victorian, South Australian and New South Wales borders.

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