Results from American West’s metallurgical test work on the near surface and sulphide ores at West Desert returned high recoveries of zinc (89.9%) and copper (78%) using sulphuric acid leaching.

While several historical metallurgical programs have been undertaken and completed at American West Metals’ (ASX:AW1) West Desert Project, 160km southwest of Salt Lake City, recent test work was completed on drill core samples from a 2022 diamond drilling program.

The acid leach test work on a range of different sized oxide material has produced up to 89.9% recovery for zinc, 78% recovery for copper, and with relatively low acid consumptions – demonstrating the potential viability of the oxide and transitional ores to traditional processing techniques.

Importantly, testing of high-grade sulphide ores from the Main Zone of the West Desert deposit has also confirmed historical results and produced exceptional recoveries of over 99% for zinc using simple sulphide flotation.


Major breakthrough in development potential

“This is a breakthrough for the project and will help us unlock the full potential of the large ore body at West Desert,” AW1 managing director Dave O’Neill says.

“West Desert is blessed with very simple and well understood ore mineralogy with very low deleterious elements.

“This work has taken a significant step in de-risking the project and increasing the available resource tonnages.

“We believe this will give us outstanding development optionality which will allow a staged mining strategy that includes both open pit and underground operations.”


What is heap leaching?

Heap leaching is widely used as a low cost and simple processing technique and can be used to recover very low concentrations of base and precious metals.

The amenability of the oxide ores to this process method unlocks the near surface potential of the West Desert Deposit and supports the potential for a staged open pit and underground mining scenario.


Next on the agenda

The oxide portion of the West Desert deposit requires further technical evaluation supported by additional drilling, mineralogical domaining and continued metallurgical testing.

Future work will focus on optimising the metal extraction processes further, particularly for the heap leach potential of the oxide classified ores and will include bulk column testing and variability work.

Reverse Circulation (RC) drilling will be used to acquire material to develop a robust mineralogical model of the open pit.

For now, work continues on the maiden JORC compliant resource for West Desert and investors can look forward to an update in the coming weeks.


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This article was developed in collaboration with American West, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.