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Recent announcements regarding the South Australian mineral and energy resources sectors

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This update covers the September 2017 period and is compiled from information publicly released by companies and Ministerial news releases.

Readers should refer to the latest information available on company websites, particularly in regard to making any forward investment decisions.

Company news

Archer Exploration

A large soil sampling program is underway over almost 25 kmof the mineralised magnetic anomaly at Archer Exploration’s Blue Hills Copper Project (ASX release 6 September 2017). Archer is in the process of acquiring all of the area of the anomaly and known copper–gold mineralisation.

For its wholly owned Eyre Peninsula graphite project, Archer is expecting to achieve a major milestone before year end with the grant of a mining lease for the mining and manufacture of high purity graphite and graphene. This will enable establishment of Australia’s first vertically integrated graphite and graphene manufacturing facility, producing ultra-pure graphite that will be used to make ultra-pure graphene (ASX release 28 September 2017).

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In a news release on 4 September 2017 BHP announced two significant milestones at Olympic Dam – first ore from the high-grade underground expansion into the Southern Mining Area and first copper cathode production from heap leach research and development trials. These are integral to the long-term expansion of Olympic Dam and support of a potential increase in production to over 450,000 tonnes (t) of copper per year. Heap leach technology could revolutionise production, providing a low-cost processing option to extract copper, uranium, gold and silver from the unique Olympic Dam polymetallic orebody. Larger scale experiments and testing on the heap leach process will be carried out over the next three years.

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Boss Resources

Operation of the field leach trial at Boss Resources’ Honeymoon uranium project has begun (ASX release 12 September 2017). The construction phase was completed in mid-August 2017 and the wellfield conditioning phase started on 11 August. The ion exchange pilot plant has been installed and plant commissioning and operator training is underway. The program is on schedule for completion in November 2017.

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Gindalbie Metals – Terrace Mining

Drilling has commenced at the Mount Gunson copper–cobalt project, located 40 km southwest of OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena project (ASX release 1 September 2017). Drilling is focused on the Windabout and MG14 deposits with a minimum of 29 rotary mud and diamond holes expected to be completed by mid September. The aim is to obtain 500 kg of metallurgical samples for the next stage of test work. The project is a joint venture between Gindalbie Metals and Terrace Mining, a wholly owned subsidiary of private company Torrens Mining.

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Havilah Resources

Gold production at Havilah Resources’ Portia gold mine was approximately 126% higher in August 2017 than July due to processing higher grade ore and a 45% increase in plant throughput (ASX release 25 September 2017). A total of 43,000 t of saprolite ore was mined in August, generating ore stockpiles of approximately 75,000 t that will allow processing to continue at the current rate for roughly the next one and a half months.

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Outstanding new 1 m assay results have been received from Marmota’s Aurora Tank July drilling program (ASX release 4 September 2017). Best results include:

  • 1 m at 101 g/t Au with duplicate samples at 85 g/t and 93 g/t, averaging 93 g/t (17AT021)
  • 1 m at 44 g/t Au (17AT022).

Multiple intersections exceeding 20 g/t Au include:

  • 1 m at 93 g/t Au from 32 m (2m at 67 g/t Au from 32 m; 17AT021)
  • 1 m at 44 g/t Au from 45 m (5 m at 13 g/t Au from 41 m; 17AT022)
  • 1 m at 42 g/t Au from 33 m (4 m at 14 g/t Au from 32 m; 17AT011)
  • 1 m at 42 g/t Au from 18 m (10 m at 6 g/t Au from 17 m; 17AT042)
  • 1 m at 26 g/t Au from 31 m (4 m at 9 g/t Au from 28 m; 17AT026)
  • 1 m at 19 g/t Au from 23 m (3 m at 10 g/t Au from 22 m; 17AT035)
  • 1 m at 20 g/t Au from 30 m (2 m at 16 g/t Au from 29 m; 17AT045)
  • 1 m at 30 g/t Au from 17 m (17AT029)
  • 1 m at 20 g/t Au from 17 m (17AT024)
  • 1 m at 22 g/t Au from 20 m (17AT044).

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Minotaur Exploration

An extensive ground electromagnetic survey along parts of the Skylark Shear Zone near the Prominent Hill copper–gold mine has been completed under an alliance between Minotaur and OZ Minerals (ASX release 25 September 2017). Four basement conductors have been identified at shallow depth and potentially indicate the presence of conductive sulfide minerals (e.g. pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite):

  • Maverick and Nexus, both to the northwest of and within 22 km of the mine (within the main survey area)
  • Bellatrix East, which was first detected in the December 2016 survey, and an additional adjacent conductor (small infill survey).

No anomalism was located at Jindivik (a 3 km section surveyed at the southeastern end of the shear zone).

A drilling program is being planned and is expected to commence in October 2017.

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Monax Mining

Adelaide-based junior explorer Monax Mining has signed a binding term sheet to enter into a farm-in and joint venture agreement with Western Australia gold producer Ramelius Resources over the Western Queen gold project. Monax expects to be able to report a resource for the project during the December 2017 quarter (ASX release 5 September 2017).

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OZ Minerals

Preparatory groundwork has commenced on Phase One of OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper–gold project following approval by the South Australian Government of the program for environment protection and rehabilitation (PEPR) for the airstrip and the Tjungu 550-bed accommodation village (ASX release 29 September 2017). The construction workforce will be progressively mobilised over the coming weeks. Decline development is advancing in line with schedule. Around 1,000 jobs are expected to be created from construction through to production and OZ Minerals is prioritising sustainable local procurement and local employment.

Phase Two is subject to mining lease approval and will see the construction of the on-site processing plant and other major operational infrastructure.

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Terramin Australia

Approximately $8 million to be raised through a share placement by Terramin Australia will be used primarily to complete the final steps towards a decision to mine by partners in the Tala Hamza zinc project in Algeria (including the lodgement of the mining lease application) and to complete work required for lodgement of the mining lease application for the Bird-in-Hand gold project in the Adelaide Hills (ASX release 27 September 2017).

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Thor Mining

A four-stage development plan has been designed for the Kapunda copper project to progressively confirm that the known copper mineralisation at the historic mine can be extracted profitably using the proposed in situ recovery process, but also safely and without adverse environmental outcomes (ASX release 13 September 2017). The stages are:

  • Stage 1
    • finalised JORC-compliant resources estimate
    • stakeholder and regulatory approvals
    • borehole water testing
    • historical core sample testing to establish flow rates and verify metal recovery
  • Stage 2
    • field pump test work
  • Stage 3
    • field recovery trials
  • Stage 4
    • feasibility study.

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Ministerial news releases

Commonwealth: Investing in the future strength of the Australian resources sector

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
2 September 2017

A new Junior Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (JMETC) scheme, which will replace the Exploration Development Incentive, will encourage investment and risk-taking to drive the next wave of discoveries. Developed on industry feedback, JMETC will allow tax losses in greenfield exploration companies to be distributed as a credit to Australian resident shareholders. Tax credits of up to $100 million over four years will be made available from this financial year on a first-in first-served basis consistent with arrangements to be administered by the Australian Taxation Office.

JMETC aims to turnaround greenfield mineral exploration expenditure that has declined by almost 70% over the past five years. Only newly issued shares relating to capital raising for investment in new greenfield exploration activity will be eligible for the tax credits.

New Hamilton Space School launched

Susan Close, Minister for Education and Child Development
28 September 2017

Students are ready to blast off on a mission to Mars with the launch of the new Hamilton Space School facility at Hamilton Secondary College tonight. The Space School facility has three main areas created for its space science programs – a simulated Martian crater and landscape, a mission control room and briefing room. The Martian landscape has been designed to mimic a crater on Mars, with the surface built from rocks collected from all over Australia to map out seven different geological areas. The design simulates real-life Martian exploration in the same way that NASA sends space probes to land in craters, as they are prime locations to gather samples.

Premier welcomes GFG Alliance-ZEN Energy deal as the 'holy grail' of energy policy

Premier Jay Weatherill
21 September 2017

Premier Jay Weatherill has welcomed GFG Alliance’s decision to buy a majority stake in Adelaide-based energy company ZEN Energy. The investment is a major vote of confidence in South Australia’s economy and the state government’s leadership towards a renewable energy future. The deal will see GFG Alliance invest in renewable energy to help drive down energy costs. The Upper Spencer Gulf is already a leader in renewable energy technology with the largest solar thermal plant of its type in the world being built at Port Augusta and the state's biggest solar photovoltaic plant under construction at Whyalla.

New partnership to drive innovation in SA's minerals sector

Kym Maher, Minister for Science and Information Economy
16 September 2017

A $14 million research consortium will explore how new technologies and the Internet of Things may improve efficiencies and opportunities for South Australia’s mining sector. The state government will contribute $4 million over four years through the Research Consortia Program to support collaboration between mining companies and local researchers. The project will help mining companies boost business performance and productivity, eliminate unnecessary costs and waste, and anticipate machinery failures, using new technologies such as the Internet of Things, data analytics and sensors. Led by the University of Adelaide, the consortium is set to create new research positions, drive international collaborations and promote the expansion of the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector in South Australia, potentially attracting new businesses and startups to the state. Applications for the second round of the Research Consortia Program are now open.

Review identifies 82 recommended changes to South Australia's mining laws

Tom Koutsantonis, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy
8 September 2017

A comprehensive review of South Australia’s mining laws has recommended 82 changes to the existing laws and policies following widespread consultation with community and industry. The recommendations balance the requests from landowners, communities, business and environment advocates for substantial reforms to the Mining Act 1971, Opal Mining Act 1995, and the Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920. The state government has begun drafting legislation that reflects the 82 recommendations, and is scheduling a further round of regional community information sessions that will commence late September.

Outside of the recommendations, two issues remain to be considered (native title and the financial assurance scheme) by various expert panels and consultative bodies before further amendments can be recommended.

Gas exploration company relocates to Adelaide to strike it rich in the Cooper

Martin Hamilton-Smith, Minister for Investment and Trade
1 September 2017

ASX-listed oil and gas exploration company Strike Energy announced plans today to relocate its corporate office and headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide, creating 85 new full-time jobs in the state’s resources industry while reinforcing its reputation as the focus of the national gas sector. With the company’s primary focus being the rapid commercialisation of a world-scale gas resource in South Australia’s Cooper Basin, Adelaide presented an ideal choice to base its head office. The South Australian Government will contribute $990,000 to support the job creation project via the Economic Investment Fund.

A new chapter for the people of Whyalla

Premier Jay Weatherill
1 September 2017

Premier Jay Weatherill today welcomed the beginning of a new chapter for the people of Whyalla at a ceremony to mark the official handing over of the steelworks and mine to new owner GFG Alliance. The event brings to an end 16 months of uncertainty for workers, their families, supply chain businesses and the broader Whyalla community. Importantly, GFG Alliance Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta has said the company will make major capital investments in its Whyalla operations. The state government has also committed $50 million to be invested in Whyalla’s steel-making capacity to help ensure the long-term security of thousands of local steelmaking and mining jobs, and is in discussions with GFG about the nature of that investment.

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