A positive Scoping Study has highlighted the potential for a long-life mining operation at Coda’s Elizabeth Creek project in South Australia capable of producing both copper and cobalt in significant quantities.  

Cobalt, often a by-product of copper mining, is a key component of many lithium-ion battery chemistries but its extraction can be an ESG nightmare, which makes Coda’s positive Scoping Study especially welcome.

The study envisions mineralisation being sourced from two open pits and one long-life underground mine to deliver average steady state annual production of 25,000t of copper and 1,000t of cobalt at average grades of 1.29% copper and 515 parts per million cobalt.

Capex for the first phase – which envisions a year of copper-cobalt concentrate production to drive early cash-flow – is estimated at $277m.

The second phase and its construction of an Albion Process hydrometallurgical plant to produce higher value saleable end-products such as copper cathode, battery-grade cobalt sulphate, zinc carbonate and silver doré will cost a further $320m with partial support from Phase 1 cashflow.

Payback is expected over 4.75 years with Coda Minerals (ASX:COD) flagging that the project will deliver pre-tax net present value and internal rate of return – both measures of a project’s profitability – of about $570m and 26.5% respectively.

Total pre-tax revenue is estimated to be about $5.73bn over the life of the mine.

Months of hard work pay off

Chairman Keith Jones said the study represents the culmination of just over 15 months of intense and highly focused work since the publication of the Emmie Bluff copper-cobalt resource in December 2021.

“During that time, the Coda team has delivered a robust metallurgical process for the project, identified the optimal mining method and defined a detailed mine plan,” he added.

“Through this work, we have demonstrated a means to produce mineral products that are in high demand and integral to a decarbonised future.”

Chief executive officer Chris Stevens added that the Scoping Study was an important milestone for Elizabeth Creek and underpinned a robust “go-forward case” for its development.

“We also have multiple opportunities for expansion and improvement underway,” Stevens noted.

“Recent geophysical work has defined a number of highly prospective expansion targets for the sediment-hosted copper-cobalt mineralisation at Emmie Bluff which have the potential to increase project size and scope beyond the already excellent 14 year mine life

“In addition to exploration, we continue to focus on optimisation of the integrated mine plans, opportunities from XRF ore sorting, as well as our study into the potential use of mechanical cutting techniques at Emmie Bluff.

“This work is well advanced and has the potential to result in material financial uplift and reduction in geotechnical risk and ventilation demand for Emmie Bluff.”

Robust copper-cobalt project with excellent ESG credentials

Elizabeth Creek consists of three granted Exploration Licences covering 701km2 in the storied and active Olympic Dam Copper Province, Australia’s most productive copper belt that includes BHP’s giant Olympic Dam copper-gold-uranium mine.

It is located 35km southeast of Woomera and 135km northwest of Port August in South Australia with access to high quality infrastructure.

The Scoping Study is based on extracting copper-cobalt mineralisation contained within the MG14, Windabout and Emmie Bluff deposits using low-risk conventional open pit and underground mining techniques with processing using conventional flotation and downstream processing common to copper-cobalt projects globally.

The bulk of the resource is contained within the underground Emmie Bluff resource which is amongst Australia’s largest known sediment hosted copper deposits in Australia with a Indicated and Inferred Resource of 43Mt at 1.3% copper, 470ppm cobalt, 11 grams per tonne (g/t) silver and 0.15% zinc.

Additionally, Windabout and MG14 have resources of 17.67Mt at 0.77% copper, 492ppm cobalt and 8g/t silver and 1.83Mt at 1.24% copper, 334ppm cobalt and 14g/t silver respectively.

Elizabeth Creek also boosts excellent ESG credentials thanks to its location in a Tier 1 mining jurisdiction and ready access to Australia’s most renewable power grid, which compares very favourably with the ESG headache presented by cobalt production from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which still produces the bulk of the world’s supply.

Further activity

Coda now intends to proceed with a more advanced Pre-Feasibility Study into the development of the project.

This will begin with a 20-30 hole diamond drill program at Emmie Bluff to provide metallurgical samples and geotechnical information to allow for an update to its resources, improve the mining schedule and geotechnical understanding of the deposit, refine and optimise the metallurgical flowsheet and improve the accuracy of the study.

It has also identified several areas to materially improve project economics through potential cost reductions or improved efficiencies.

These include the application of Mechanical Cutting using continuous miners or roadheaders for the mining of Emmie Bluff and the use of XRF Ore Sorting to reduce the mass and improve the grade of feed product into the flotation plant.

It will also study the reclamation of water from tails and the applicability of Paste Fill to improve the geotechnical properties of Emmie Bluff and reduce the environmental impacts of the tails dumps.




This article was developed in collaboration with Coda Minerals, 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.