Chalice flags open-cut mine as forest drilling continues
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
CHALICE Mining has announced a “strong option” to build a kilometre-wide open pit mine on Julimar farmland after revealing a 50 per cent increase in the size of its “world class” deposit in the Keating Road area.
The company also announced “enormous growth potential” in a much larger area that extends north into the Julimar State Forest.Read more
Current exploration drilling in the conservation park is limited by State Government restrictions backed by the Shire of Toodyay and conservationist groups.
The nearby farmland find is estimated to be worth billions of dollars at today’s prices.
Chalice told the Australian Stock Exchange last month that it had started seeking business partners to enter into formal agreements to mine and process millions of tonnes of Julimar ore over the next few decades.
The company’s share prices rose by nearly 17 per cent to $7.49 at the close of trading at the end of last month after rising steadily from $5.96 over the previous fortnight.
The stock exchange granted Chalice’s request for a share trading halt on Monday March 27 pending the company’s announcement next day.
The Chalice statement said that drilling on private farmland south of Julimar Road had increased the size of its known deposit to three million tonnes.
A further 27km of forest north of Julimar Road was “effectively untested” due to low-impact drilling constraints imposed by the State Government last year.
The three-year-old discovery consists of palladium, platinum and gold which sell for up to US$1800 an ounce on the world market, and nickel, copper and cobalt worth US$10,500 to US$72,000 per ton.
Chalice is touting it’s discovery as a leading new global supply of “green metals” to power electric vehicles and reduce carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
The discovery will also generate millions of dollars in aditional State revenue from mining royalties in what the company describes as a “long-life” project.
Chalice told the stock exchange there was “enormous growth potential” on the private farmland it now owns – and in the Julimar State Forest further north.
More than 1000 sampling holes had been drilled to a depth of 800m on Chalice-owned private farms south of Julimar Road.
A further 100 test holes had been drilled on a 10km stretch of State forest on the northern side of Julimar Road.
Chalice told the stock exchange that only seven per cent of the ore body is located on private farmland to the south, while the rest – which is largely untested – stretches 27km north through the forest to Dewars Pool.
“While we already have a tier-1 scale deposit which has the potential to underpin a world-class, long-life green metals project, the resource base is expected to grow,” Chalice said.
“Our multi-pronged exploration campaign will therefore continue over the coming months as we work to unlock the full potential of the 30km-long Julimar complex.”
“The Julimar project is favourably located with access to established road, rail port and high-voltage power infrastructure nearby, plus access to a significant drive-in drive-out mining workforce in the Perth surrounds.”
In a separate statement to The Herald, a Chalice spokesperson said that “any mining will require strict government approvals and will consider environmental and social impacts”.
The statement referred to “decades of mining” with “open pit and underground mining scenarios continuing to be considered”.
“Low-impact exploration drilling is continuing within the southern portion of the State Forest,” the spokesperson said.
“While initial results have confirmed the prospectivity of the region at depth, no economic deposit has yet been identified in the area, and there is no certainty that mining will ever occur in the forest.”
Conservationists have been lobbying the WA Government to upgrade the forest from conservation park to national park status to protect it from mining.
Concerns have also been raised about the large volumes of ground water likely to be needed to mine and process millions of tonnes of ore in the coming decades, as well as the environmental impact of large-scale industrial air pollution and noise.