22/05/2009 - 15:31

Fox to revive Pilbara operation

22/05/2009 - 15:31

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Fox Resources is aiming to generate cash in the short-term after it launched test work on nickel and copper ore stockpiles at its Pilbara operation, which was placed on care and maintenance last year.

Fox to revive Pilbara operation

Fox Resources is aiming to generate cash in the short-term after it launched test work on nickel and copper ore stockpiles at its Pilbara operation, which was placed on care and maintenance last year.

More to come...

 

The announcement is below:

 


Pilbara-based minerals developer Fox Resources Limited (ASX: FXR) is commissioning metallurgical testwork to explore the potential of heap leaching ores from Whundo and Radio Hill.

The work will assist in determining whether a successful cash generating business can be developed with existing ore resources and stockpiled material.

Fox has more than 300,000 tonnes of stockpiled material that will be subject to the study, and which could provide the basis for a five year, heap leaching operation.

Fox Managing Director Bruno Seneque said this represents a low cost opportunity for Fox to produce high value end products. If successful, the operation could be underway within three months from commencement of testwork.

"We have a significant volume of mined material that we are aiming to incorporate in a heap leach operation, including stockpiles of oxide copper ore and copper supergene tailings from West Whundo, both grading approximately 1.5-2.0% copper," Mr Seneque said.

"We believe this is a promising, low cost opportunity for Fox, we already have key infrastructure in place, and have appointed a dedicated team to lead the test work."

The Radio Hill flotation plant will remain on care and maintenance ready to be used for any massive/semi-massive nickel/copper sulphide discoveries.

Heap Leach Testwork - Whundo Copper

Approximately 60,000 tonnes of oxide material grading 1.5% copper is stockpiled on surface at the Whundo site as a result of previous mining operations by Fox (see Figure 1). This means there are significant cost savings, as there is no requirement to mine or crush the ore, thus resulting in significant cost savings.

Column testing will commence as soon as possible to determine copper recovery, reagent consumption and general leach kinetics. The liquor produced will also be processed in a highly concentrated solution using copper resin technology. This resin technology will then facilitate the production of a high grade saleable copper product such as copper sulphate or copper cement. It is anticipated that this test work should be completed in three months from commencement.

Assuming successful results from this testwork, Fox geologists have commenced a review of the resource models at Whundo and West Whundo to determine the quantity of additional copper oxide ore that can be mined for such heap leaching operations. The installed heap leaching infrastructure would also facilitate the future heap leaching of considerable copper and zinc sulphide resources known to exist below existing pit levels.

Heap Leach Testwork - Radio Hill Nickel/Copper/Cobalt

At Radio Hill approximately 250,000 tonnes of stockpiled material is available in the form of scats (mill rejects), oxidised massive and semi-massive Run of Mine (ROM) material and copper supergene tailings from West Whundo copper supergene processing. Once again the key advantage of this ore is that there is no requirement to mine or crush this material, thus resulting in significant cost savings.

Column testing will commence as soon as possible to determine metal recovery, reagent consumption and general leach kinetics. Resin technology will also be used to produce a high tenor liquor which can then be converted to a nickel/cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) which is a post-smelting product. Nickel/Cobalt MHP can attract a premium to conventional sulphide concentrates as MHP's are introduced into the refining process thereby by-passing the smelting process. A high copper concentrated liquor will also be produced from this material, which can be run through electro-winning cells to produce copper cathode. The commissioned testwork will determine what end product Fox will produce.

Disseminated ore from Fox's Sholl deposit has been previously heap leached by Titan Resources NL as part of a large field based, pilot scale operation with a 5,000 tonne heap and another 8,000 tonne heap. Irrigation of the initial 5,000 tonne heap commenced in May 2000 and by October 2000, nickel recovery into solution reached 74%. It is anticipated that the column testing will take up to 12 months to complete however satisfactory results may be achieved much earlier as demonstrated from Titan's pilot operation.

Assuming successful results from this testwork, there exists the potential to utilise disseminated resources available from the Radio Hill underground mine and Sholl B2.

Key Appointment to Drive Heap Leach Operations

A new team has been appointed to drive the heap leach testwork headed up by Mr Len Spencer, who was previously Mill Superintendent for Radio Hill during the period of ownership by Titan Resources NL.

Len has over 30 years of experience and held a number of senior management roles including a post with European Nickel PLC where he was responsible for management of the design, construction, commissioning and start-up of a pilot plant facility, at the Caldag Project in Turkey, to commercialise European Nickel's new technology for the acid heap leaching of nickel laterites. This was completed successfully and he also contributed to the further development of the company's technology in the areas of leaching procedures, nickel product development and full scale design.

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