PhosCo is best known for its ripping Chaketma Phosphate Project in Tunisia, where it has brilliantly timed studies to pair a location perfectly placed to service the global food bowl with soaring prices for rock phosphate.

But it has also started a new program of work in the north African nation to explore for base metals at Zeflana, targeting a major zinc and lead belt mined in the early 20th century and once explored by copper major OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL).

With an updated scoping study at Chaketma due this month, PhosCo (ASX:PHO) has turned the attention of its drill rigs to Zeflana, where an auger campaign started in October.

It will test target areas where highly anomalous zinc and lead from soil sampling of transported cover was undertaken by OZ in 2008.

They sit along strike from the Sidi Bou Aouane zinc-lead deposit in the Atlas zinc-lead belt and sit in a region known for its endowment of Mississippi Valley Type zinc-lead discoveries.

PhosCo is tested targets on a gravity high, with similar characteristics to the historic Sidi Bou Aouane and nearby historical workings, with 13 of a planned 25 holes already sunk.

Ancient times

Zeflana comprises three wholly-owned exploration permits, covering 78km2, which PhosCo picked up in 2018 and 2019 on the basis of historical work and its in-country technical experience in the north African nation.

The Atlas belt has delivered base metals all the way back to ancient times, with mining taking place during the Phoenician and Roman civilisations.

Despite that, little modern exploration has taken place, with most of the exploration along the belt occurring between 2004 and 2008 by companies including Albidon in JV with Maghreb Minerals and OZ fore-runner Zinifex.

The MVT style of deposit found on the Atlas belt is known to form extremely large deposits around the world like those mined in Missouri, Canada and Ireland.

Evidence of historical base metals mining has been identified at Zeflana’s Sidi Abdullah prospect, where several mine shafts and adits have been discovered, with the current program to drill through the transported cover and take more representative geochemical samples near the bedrock.

Update due soon

While PhosCo’s move into base metals exploration shows it has multiple strings to its bow, rock phosphate remains the main game.

The price of the fertiliser has surged in 2022, with the concentration of the industry in just five jurisdictions including China and Russia seeing deep supply pressure this year.

Prices are currently upwards of US$300/t, almost 120% higher than a year ago.

PhosCo holds a 50.99% interest in Chaketma, 210km from the capital of Tunis, which contains a world class JORC compliant resource of 148Mt at 20.6% P2O5.

That has been defined from drilling at just two of the project’s six prospects, with a mineral resource upgrade due imminently for the GK prospect, ahead of the scoping study update, which will ascertain work required to take the project through to a bankable feasibility study.

The most recently reported inferred resource for the GK, deposit included 93Mt at 20.3% P2O5, with a further 49.1Mt at 21.3% P2O5 measured and 6.4Mt at 20.3% indicated at the Kef El Louz (KEL) deposit.




This article was developed in collaboration with PhosCo, 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.