The Copi Project
The Copi deposit is a higher-grade strandline-type, ilmenite-rutile-zircon-leucoxene (titanium, zirconium) placer deposit, located in the Murray Basin in south-western NSW. It is within Exploration Licence EL8312 and extends to the north-west into Exploration Licence EL8385 (Sunshine). Similar deposits nearby are mined by Cristal (Ginkgo, Snapper) and Iluka (Woornack) in Victoria.
The Copi North strand is approximately 15km long, 120m to 220m wide and 5m to 10m thick, with approximately 20m of sediment cover. The mineral assemblage is ilmenite dominant (54%) but also contains high value zircon (11.3%), rutile (10.8%) and leucoxene (10.0%). The deposit is characterised by low slimes (2.8%) and minimal oversize (2%).
Pre-Feasibility Study and Feasibility Study
Relentless is undertaking a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) in respect of the Copi Project and has completed 5 of the 7 components of the PFS. Relentless Resources then proposed to undertake a final Feasibility Study (FS) commencing in 2019.
In order to undertake the proposed FS, Relentless will be required to complete the following:
Proposed Operating Philosophy
Relentless’ proposed operating philosophy will be based on a dry mining open pit truck and excavator operation processing 1.5 million tonnes per annum (tpa) of heavy mineral sands to produce a heavy mineral concentrate of approximately 100,000 tpa for direct sale to customers. It is expected customers will further process the heavy mineral concentrate to separate the valuable minerals.
The proposed operations at Copi will be similar to other dry sands mining operations of a similar scale and in similar locations. It is expected that the mining activities will be conducted by a contractor, with permanent employees used to operate the process plant and undertake all other operating and management activities.
Proposed Mining Operation
A contractor operated dry mining open pit mining methodology is proposed as the preferred mining method. This is a commonly adopted mining method that is used for similar projects using readily available and non-bespoke mining equipment. No drilling and blasting will be required.
The proposed mining method has the following steps:
For those sections of the deposit that are narrow and the advance rate of the mining faces results in an excessive number of MMU moves, the MMU will be located outside the pit and the exposed ore will be mined with trucks and excavators and placed in the MMU.
Metallurgy and Processing
In December 2016, Relentless Resources commissioned a bulk metallurgical test work and process concept development program. The program involved the processing of an ore sample sourced from the Copi North deposit through to final products, with the product suite (mix and quality) guided by an in-depth understanding of the titanium dioxide and zircon feedstock market requirements. Seven potential product streams were identified during the test work being primary ilmenite, secondary ilmenite, HiTi 76, HiTi 86, rutile, primary zircon and secondary zircon. The test work program provided key details on the measured mass and process yields through both the wet concentrator and dry plant processes. A combination of these test work results and mineral assemblage information has been used to determine the proposed process flowsheet and mineral recoveries for Copi.
The deposit has unique characteristics, including the low slimes and oversize content, except with relatively complex mineral assemblage including zircon and Fe-Ti containing minerals, which have undergone various degrees of alteration. The focus of the proposed flowsheet was therefore the rejection of a large proportion of the light gangue minerals (quartz) in the wet concentrator circuit, whilst minimising the losses of the lower density valuable heavy minerals (rutile / leucoxene /zircon).
The heavy mineral recovery, yield and concentrate grades have been calculated using test work results and calculating recirculating loads to better reflect the recoveries expected in a full-scale operation.
The WCP will recover the valuable heavy minerals (ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene and zircon) and reject most of the non-valuable, lighter gangue minerals in four stages of gravity separation utilising spirals. The HMC product will be washed with potable quality water from the site’s reverse osmosis plant, to reduce the chloride contamination from the site’s raw water, that would otherwise cause downstream processing issues.
The proposed circuit will be designed to produce an HMC containing heavy minerals and the HMC will be stockpiled for trucking off-site to a point of sale. Coarse tailings from the WCP will be returned to the mining void by pumping and cyclone stacking with water from the cyclone overflow recycled directly to the MMU. Slimes from the slimes thickener will be pumped to slimes drying dams from which they will be reclaimed and returned to the mining void once dry.
The list below itemises the typical infrastructure items that the project will require to be able to operate efficiently. As noted above, acquisition of the following listed items will be the subject of additional project funding once the Feasibility Study has been completed and regulatory approvals for the Copi Project have been obtained:
Proposed Product Transport Logistics
It is proposed that the HMC product will be transported to the final customer, via a newly constructed site access road to the Anabranch Mail road and then onto the existing Silver City Highway to Broken Hill. Rail freight will be used from the from Broken Hill to the Port of Adelaide and then ocean freight (in circumstances where the final customer is located overseas). It is expected that HMC loading at site, road freight, rail freight and ship loading will be undertaken by a specialist logistics contractor for the duration of operations.
Permitting and Approvals Status
The following NSW-based approvals, leases, licences and permits will be required for the proposed project:
In order to obtain the above, Relentless Resources is required to complete an Environmental Impact Statement. In addition, as a precursor to completing an EIS, the Company is required to receive a SEARs, which details the matters requiring consideration in the preparation of the EIS. Relentless Resources has obtained its SEARs and is progressing the Environmental Impact Statement process, which will lead to the grant of the environmental protection license. Once that license has been granted, the Company will be able to obtain its development consent, and then proceed with obtaining the mining lease and the remaining approvals.