Cassini Resources Ltd (ASX:CZI) and partner OZ Minerals Ltd (ASX:OZL) are investigating the use of innovative solutions to provide power needs for the large West Musgrave Nickel-Copper Project in remote central Australia.
Provision of cost-effective power is one of the key components of an extended pre-feasibility study (PFS) which is progressing well as the JV partners look at opportunities to add value to the project.
A 55MW hybrid power plant is being considered to harness solar and wind energy to provide 70 to 80 per cent of the power needs of the project, supported and balanced by battery storage and diesel generators.
Other value-add initiatives
Other initiatives include pilot plant testing to assess a new grinding methodology, a Remote Operations Centre and upgrading the resource.
To finance an extended PFS, OZ Minerals board has approved the expenditure of a further $10 million.
Cassini’s managing director Richard Bevan told Proactive that the $10 million demonstrated the commitment of OZ to West Musgrave.
“This will take them up to around $50 million spent on the project by the end of this year.”
West Musgrave, which is a joint venture between OZ Minerals (70%) and Cassini Resources (30%), is Australia’s largest undeveloped copper and nickel project.
The JV plans to develop the Nebo and Babel copper and nickel deposits within the WA project near the borders of South Australia and Northern Territory.
OZ aims to complete the extended PFS in early 2020 when an updated mineral resource and maiden ore reserve is also expected to be declared.
The miner said large-scale solar photovoltaic and wind solutions were currently economically viable and technically mature solutions to reduce the project’s reliance on high-cost fossil fuels for electricity generation.
“Baseline data collected over the last year has demonstrated a high-quality, consistent solar and wind resource is available, with higher wind velocities at night offsetting the lack of solar power,” OZ said in a presentation this week.
OZ Minerals’ CEO Andrew Cole said: “The PFS is advancing on a base case assessment aligned with the further scoping study conclusion of a 10 million tonnes per annum copper-nickel open pit mine.
“We are using an innovative and inclusive process to develop West Musgrave as a modern mine that creates maximum value.
“Through the collaborative progress, we have identified several opportunities and threats warranting further investigation, including some significant innovations that will help improve the valuation of the project in one of the most remote areas of Australia.
“These include the use of a reduced site footprint through a remote-operations centre, the use of hybrid power solutions, innovative technology and a process flowsheet which pilot testing has shown could result in a reduction in power usage.
“We believe these opportunities have the potential to reduce our carbon footprint and power costs versus a traditional mine footprint.”
Bevan told Proactive that the JV was looking at “a number of significant opportunities that we are hoping to capture over the next couple of months that will add value to the project”.
Resource and metallurgy work
He said the aim was to realise and de-risk these opportunities, including in the areas of resource and metallurgy.
Ongoing drilling was aimed at increasing resources and preparing a maiden ore reserve while the metallurgical work aimed to enhance recoveries and reduce costs.
“The tests include running a pilot plant to fully assess a new grinding methodology that has the opportunity to reduce the power cost in the grinding cycle by about 30%,” Bevan said.