Seasoned explorer Encounter Resources (ASX: ENR) has kicked off exploration at its copper-cobalt prospect in WA’s Paterson Province.

Investors will be keenly watching for the results from the project, which has been in the works for some time and carried out with the experienced Independence Group (ASX: IGO).

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Encounter will be deploying a number of “rapidly advancing geochemical and geophysical exploration technologies for the first time” in its efforts to strike a significant mineral deposit.

Shares in Encounter were unchanged at 8.7 cents in morning trade.

There’s magnetic and then there’s magnetotelluric

The Yeneena copper-cobalt project is situated in a 70km-long corridor that has been compared to the Central African copper belt.

As part of its search efforts, Encounter is rolling out some high-tech hardware that is likely only to be familiar to experienced industry veterans.

That includes a “magnetotelluric survey” to advance 3D testing of existing conductive zones.

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  • For previously-drilled aircore drill-holes, Encounter will apply “super trace end-of-hole multi element geochemistry” to refine the current geological mapping.

    Super trace end-of-hole multi element geochemistry.

    And it’s also trialling a geochmemistry surface technique developed by the CSIRO, to test for base metal anomalies at shallow depths.

    After kicking in some early funding, Independence Group has the right to enter into a $15m earn-in agreement any time before March 2020. Exercising that option will give IGO a 70 per cent interest in the Yeneena project.

    Shares in Independence Group were down 1 per cent in morning trade at $4.82.

    In other ASX battery metals news this morning

    Zinc Limited (ASX: CZL) has released March production figures at its Plomosas zinc-lead-silver mine in Mexico. The market was less than impressed, sending CZL shares down 6.25 per cent to 1.5 cents in morning trade. The company mined 3,855 tonnes of ore comprised of 12.41 per cent zinc and 1.46 per cent lead. It also processed 5,278 tonnes of ore, with a zinc extraction rate of 91.3 per cent.
    Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) has gone ahead and exercised its option — previously flagged in January — to purchase an 80 per cent interest in the Yarawindah Brook nickel-copper-cobalt project, situated 130km north-east of Perth. Cassini will pay $300,000 and grant 6,072,302 options to a private company associated with Kalgoorlie prospector Scott Wilson. The options have a three-year term and are exercisable at 12.5 cents. That’s a 25 per cent premium to Cassini’s current share price of 10 cents, which was unchanged in morning trade.
    The administrators are coming in at Sumatra Copper & Gold (ASX: SUM), after its subsidiary PT Dwinad Nusa Sejahtera, which operates the Tembang mine in Indonesia, was unable to restructure its debt terms with lenders. Sumatra, which previously provided guarantees for PT’s debt, proposed a restructure of the company to creditors which would release it from those commitments.

    “This proposal was not accepted”, the company said. However, “efforts will continue through the administration process to find a means to resurrect the company and restore the ASX listing”. Wilkins Kennedy Amersham have been appointed as administrators.
    And zinc producer Symbol Mining (ASX: SL1) has responded to a grilling from the ASX over its negative cashflows. The company confirmed it’s in a battle, but that its enemy — excessive cash burn — will “no longer prevail” once Q2 production targets are achieved.

    While operating conditions remain subject to fluctuations in zinc prices and foreign exchange rates, SL1’s directors expect the company will have enough cash to meet its short-term commitments following a $1.6m capital raising earlier this year.