King River Copper’s exotic collection of minerals around the Speewah project in the East Kimberley has delivered a potentially lucrative bonus in the form of a large, high-grade fluorspar deposit next door to its flagship vanadium-titanium project. Global supply of the critical mineral is tightening, prompting the US recently to add fluorspar to its list of strategic stockpile requirements
King River Copper’s share price jumped 23% last week after the company released a report showing it was sitting on a large, high-grade fluorite deposit adjacent to its Speewah vanadium-titanium deposit in the East Kimberley.
Fluorite is a high-value product used mainly in the manufacturing of hydrofluoric acid and aluminium fluoride, a flux for smelting aluminium.
It also has a myriad of other uses including as a refrigerant and for petroleum refining.
Fluorite is in increasingly short supply and, in an exquisite piece of timing for King River, has just been listed by the US government as a strategic stockpile requirement. Prices have increased recently to US$480-520 per tonne for 97% CaF2 or fluorspar.
The new estimate for King River’s Windsor prospect in W.A is 27.2 million tonnes at 9.5% fluorspar, including a high-grade core of 6.7 million tonnes at 24.6% fluorspar
King River’s history with Windsor goes back a decade, when it was one of the foundation assets in the 2008 IPO of the company, then known as NiPlats. The deposit had been sitting on the backburner for most of that time, until now.
Encouraged by improving prices, King River commissioned CSA Global to bring the deposit up to JORC 2012 status by reviewing the vast library of drill data from historical exploration between 1989 and 2007. Previous explorers lavished attention on the deposit, drilling 389 diamond and RC holes for a total of more than 28,000 metres.
The economics of developing Windsor in conjunction with King River’s vanadium-titanium project look promising. The mineralisation is contained in four fluorite-quartz veins within an envelope that is just 50 metres wide and outcropping along more than 2km of strike length.
The extensive amount of high quality, historical work means no further drilling is needed at the deposit, which can be mined as an open pit operation less than 3 kms south of the company’s flagship vanadium-titanium deposit, which itself could be the largest in-situ resource of its kind in the world.
Extensive metallurgical testwork has already been done and removes a lot of the risk for King River Copper. Previous studies showed Windsor ore could be upgraded by heavy media separation, with subsequent conventional froth flotation producing 97-98% acid grade fluorspar.
The new resource estimate is the first step in a scoping study by King River into the feasibility of producing acid-grade fluorspar. The results will make for fascinating reading and open a window on the potentially lucrative returns for a commodity that has not been mined previously in Australia to any significant degree.