Thor’s copper and gold legs are set to become a major focus for the Adelaide-based company in 2021 ahead of market upturns delivering fresh momentum to its existing critical minerals projects across tungsten, uranium and vanadium in Australia and the United States.
The copper push involves a new joint venture farm-in agreement to acquire up to an 80 per cent interest in the Alford East in-situ recovery (ISR) project on SA’s Yorke Peninsula.
Drawing on historic results from more than 500 holes, Thor has been able to establish a maiden mineral resource estimate of 177,000 tonnes of contained copper and 71,500 ounces of contained gold at the project in quick fashion.
Thor executive chairman Mick Billing says previous explorers have “drilled through and around the mineralisation over the years looking for the next Olympic Dam.”
“They didn’t find another Olympic Dam, but they did intersect lots of low-grade oxide copper that appears to be suitable for extraction using ISR techniques,” Billing says.
The maiden resource at Alford East is spread over eight domains in a region which produced 300,000 tonnes of copper from conventional mining in the 1800s.
Producing copper from ISR techniques would be a first for SA, but the state has long produced uranium from the low impact and potentially low cost method.
Billing says the maiden resource at Alford East – it comes as copper prices have improved dramatically from the lows seen in 2020 – was of sufficient scale for Thor to plan testwork to confirm the technical feasibility of ISR production.
He believes the maiden resource is likely to be the start of the story as most of the exploration holes drilled by past explorers had bottomed out in mineralisation. “So there is plenty of depth extension possible,” Billing says.
Thor also has an indirect interest in the adjacent Alford West ISR project and the Kapunda ISR project through its 30 per cent equity interest in the private company, EnviroCopper.
Ahead of resource extension drilling and ISR testwork at Alford East, the recently cashed up Thor plans to drill its first exploration holes at the Ragged Range gold prospect in the Pilbara, about 40 kilometres west of Nullagine.
The drilling program is planned for late May/June and has received WA Government co-funding of up to $160,000
The drilling will test a 13-kilometre gold corridor identified by stream sediment sampling and an airborne magnetics survey. Immediate follow up work will have a focus on the five kilometre-long Sterling prospect.
While SA copper and WA gold is very much the focus in 2021, the company’s critical minerals projects will also receive some attention, most notably its uranium and vanadium project in Colorado which is located within striking distance of a third party processing plant. Drilling is scheduled on these targets in June.