Special report: Centaurus Metals (ASX: CTM) has struck what it describes as a “game-changing” joint venture deal with Australian battery metals process group Simulus Group to underpin the development of its recently discovered Itapitanga nickel-cobalt project in Brazil.

Under the agreement, Simulus can earn up to an 80 per cent interest in the project in stages by funding the costs of a resource drill-out and feasibility studies right through to a decision to mine. Simulus will manage the project with Centaurus providing in-country support.

Centaurus discovered a large zone of high-grade nickel-cobalt mineralisation at Itapitanga earlier this year, delivering a string of impressive drill results and defining a maiden Exploration Target of 35-45Mt grading 0.8-1.1% nickel and 0.07-0.12% cobalt, plus 18-30g/t scandium.

The project is located in the world-class Carajás region of northern Brazil and represents the southern extension of a major ultramafic intrusive complex that also hosts Anglo America’s neighbouring Jacaré nickel-cobalt deposit, one of the highest large tonnage nickel-cobalt grades in the world.

Simulus Group is a leading hydrometallurgy and mineral processing service group with extensive experience in the nickel-cobalt space, and are considered industry leaders in process development for battery grade nickel and cobalt sulphates.

Centaurus managing director Darren Gordon says Simulus approached Centaurus with the concept of farming-in to the Itapitanga Project after identifying what they believed to be a “unique opportunity” to develop a smaller-scale, lower capital intensity project.

“Simulus are one of the world’s leading nickel-cobalt mineral development groups, and they bring a huge amount of technical know-how and expertise to the project – plus the financial capacity to take it right the way through from concept to production.

Simulus' process plant which will soon have Itapinga ore running through it
Simulus’ process plant which will soon have Itapinga ore running through it

“The agreement is structured in a way that sees Centaurus essentially being free-carried right through to a development decision – which is a great outcome for our shareholders.

“That means we can continue to focus our resources and funds on our copper-gold exploration projects in the Carajás while retaining a significant interest in what could turn out to be a large and valuable nickel-cobalt development project at Itapitanga,” he said.

Simulus managing director Brett Muller said the Itapitanga project was of interest because of its relatively high nickel-cobalt grades as well as other chemical characteristics which could lend it to a process flowsheet with low process operating costs.

“We have a team with the experience and resources to allow for the rapid evaluation of the project through the engineering phases and one which has worked on other nickel laterite projects in Brazil.

“When combined with Centaurus in-country experience, we think we have all the makings of a strong partnership and a great project.”

Preliminary studies will focus on a process design for a potential 250-750ktpa development, or as required to achieve an economic project outcome over a minimum 10-15 year mine life.

The earn-in is structured around four key stages, with Simulus earning a 21% at completion of a Scoping Study report, 49% at a Feasibility Study progress report, 70% at a final Definitive Feasibility Study and 80% at the project financing stage.

 

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