Caravel’s mammoth WA copper project just keeps growing
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Special Report: Caravel Minerals’ (ASX:CVV) namesake copper project was already the largest undeveloped copper resource in Western Australia — and it just got bigger.
The company has now released a resource update that increases the indicated and inferred resource to 372 million tonnes at 0.35 per cent for 1.3 million tonnes of contained copper, using a cut-off grade of 0.25 per cent.
Caravel is a porphyry deposit, which means it is hosted in a type of granite rock, the same as most of the major copper deposits around the world, although the rocks at Caravel are much older than most other porphyry deposits and it was never expected to find a deposit like this in this region.
This makes it the first discovery of porphyry copper in the region, with the only comparable deposit being the well-known Boddington gold mine that has been producing for a decade now and is one of Australia’s largest producing gold mines.
Boddington produces gold as well as a copper concentrate, though the copper grades are lower than Caravel and gold is the main source of revenue.
Porphyry deposits are usually large and low-grade but can be mined at low cost due to their scale. Globally, over 60 per cent of copper and all of the world’s molybdenum, comes from porphyry deposits.
In North America, where most of the copper produced is from porphyry deposits, the average mined grade in 2016 was 0.33% Cu, reflecting the low cost of production in regions with good infrastructure and services.
There is still a lot more potential for significant resource increases, according to Caravel.
The project has seen only limited drilling and numerous sections of the resource remain open along strike, at depth and downhole.
Based on the current resource, the Caravel project would have an initial life of more than 30 years, with plenty more upside for expansion.
Metallurgical testwork on the Caravel copper project has demonstrated that the ore can be treated using low-cost standard processing techniques and still yield very high average recoveries of 95.5 per cent.
These recoveries exceeded the previous test results, which were around 92 per cent, carried out as part of a 2016 scoping study.
Caravel is firming the production and cost metrics in an updated scoping study that is due to be released in early May.