ASX-listed explorers Conico Ltd. and Barra Resources Ltd. are now looking to find another cashed-up partner for the Mount Thirsty cobalt-nickel joint venture in Western Australia to advance the project to the pre-feasibility study stage as soon as possible.
The move follows the completion of a scoping study, which has determined the operation will have a post-tax net present value of A$290.0 million, internal rate of return of 21.5% and a four-year payback.
The joint venture partners are pleased with the results of the study and believe it confirms the potential of Mount Thirsty to become a low-cost producer of cobalt and nickel.
The operation would process 1.5 million tonnes per annum to produce up to 1,280 tonnes of cobalt and up to 1,660 tonnes of nickel each year over a 21-year mine life.
The capital cost is pegged at A$212.0 million, while life-of-mine operating costs are estimated to be A$43 per tonne.
Conico said the recovery for cobalt is 73% and for nickel 21.5%, but the joint venture plans to undertake optimization testwork to significantly improve recoveries.
The joint venture partners also plan to engage in talks with cobalt end users in the hope of securing off-take deals or funding and will assess alternative financing sources such as streaming deals.