The 10th annual Mining the Territory Conference is delighted to welcome Korab Resources‘ contribution to the 2016 programme. We had the opportunity to catch up with Korab Resources’ Executive Chairman Andrej Karpinski to talk about the company’s project updates, challenges faced and involvement with the local stakeholders.
Andrej, as an introduction could you tell us about Korab Resources’ projects and focus?
AK: Korab resources has three key projects in the Northern Territory. The Winchester magnesium carbonate deposit 3 km east of town of Bachelor, Geolsec phosphate deposit 2 km west of Bachelor, and a large exploration project called (as one would expect) Bachelor which is stretching for about 23 km from the town of Bachelor in the west to Adelaide River in the east.
Our main focus is the development of the Winchester magnesium carbonate deposit which is one of the highest grade and best located deposits of this type in Australia, if not in the world. Winchester has the potential to generate very significant royalties revenue for the Northern Territory. Currently projected mine life is 14 years, however the mineral resource estimate used for this mine plan constitutes just 3% of the overall magnesium carbonate mineralisation on our ground. Consequently, this project could potentially run for many decades and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
In parallel with the Winchester mine planning and related work, we are also marketing phosphate rock from the Geolsec phosphate quarry and exploring the Bachelor exploration project for gold and base metals. We have recently discovered that there is gold mineralisation within our ground near the Winchester magnesium carbonate deposit, and that zinc, lead and silver have been found in drilling, also on our ground, 4km to the south/east from Winchester. We are currently reviewing the drill data and will be providing more information on this discovery when available, but preliminary results indicate that the setting and the tenor of the discovery is similar to the Woodcutters zinc, lead and silver mine which operated for 15 years (from 1984 to 1999) and during this time produced 4.65 million tonnes of ore averaging 12.28% Zn, 5.65% Pb and 87 g/t Ag. It’s of course too early to say that we have another Woodcutters, but the data certainly does look exciting.
Korab Resources recently announced the plans for the development of the Winchester magnesium carbonate mine near Batchelor. Could you share with us major milestones achieved and what have been the main challenges?
AK: The major milestone has been the granting of the mineral lease covering the Winchester magnesium carbonate deposit, and the agreement with Chinese financiers and investors who are willing to fully fund the development of the magnesium carbonate mine at Winchester. We are currently in the process of preparing the documentation for the funding which should be finalised shortly.
The biggest challenge for us was, and still is, securing support for this venture from the broader investment sector. Unlike more popular commodities such as gold, lithium, graphite, or base metals, magnesium carbonate sector is not very well understood by average investors.
However, also unlike many commodities, magnesium carbonate market is very stable in terms of historical pricing, and because most sales are done on long-term off-take agreements, magnesium carbonate provides good security for the producer in terms of both volume and price.
What are some of the initiatives in place to engage with local stakeholders, communities and businesses?
AK: We have been in discussions with the Department of Mines and Energy, landowners, communities and shires as well as local businesses that may be involved in these project’s future, and who obviously will benefit greatly from the development of this project. We are not newcomers to the Northern Territory. We have been operating in the Northern Territory since 2005, so we do have a long term commitment to the Top End.
As part of our work we have been engaging with various stakeholders and local businesses for over 10 years. Our preference has always been to utilise services provided by local operators, and we have been always aiming to ensure that the money we spend here benefits the local community as much as possible. To this end we provide local businesses with ample time to quote on provision of any services which we may require.
We have also been engaging with Coomalie Shire and the local community to ensure that we address any concerns which they may have and to assist them in any way we can.
We have also been very careful to safeguard the environment and to minimise any impact from our operations on the local flora and fauna.
I must mention that over the years we have been greatly assisted by advice and guidance from the various sections of Department of Mines and Energy, the Shire and the local community.
Considering trends in the Northern Territory’s mining and exploration sector, what discussions would you like to have with industry representatives at the forum?
AK: We will be meeting with industry representatives, government representatives as well as other stakeholders. The main topic of our discussions will be how to optimise the workflow on the development of the Winchester magnesium carbonate mine and how to maximise the benefits from this development for the Territorians and for Korab shareholders. We’ll also be interested in talking to the local businesses that may become involved in the development of this project and to potential investors.
You can hear more from Korab Resources Ltd. at the Mining the Territory Conference,
which is part of the NT Resources Week, taking place on 14th and 15th September, at the Darwin Convention Centre.