Dart’s Unicorn mine on target

DART Mining yesterday announced it was “game on” for its Mount Unicorn project near Corryong after its latest testing regime.

The company was so buoyed by the results it notified the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday.

This has given the company the confidence to reveal it was ready to embark on a program of 13,000 metres of drilling at Unicorn.

Acting chief executive John Cornelius told The Border Mail the test results indicated conventional metallurgical processes could be used to extract copper and zinc.

The project has been targeting molybdenum, copper, zinc and silver deposits.

Dart Mining had announced to the stock exchange last November that it had to slow down “certain critical steps” in the pre-feasibility study and approvals process for the project.

The stumbling block was the difficulty in separating zinc from copper sediment.

Mr Cornelius said the company’s previous regime was “very, very concerned” about this “and published documents that really said the metallurgy could be a game stopper”.

He became acting chief executive after previous boss Lindsay Ward left the company before Christmas, while former Newcrest Mining secretary Bruce Paterson took over as board chairman from Chris Bain.

“What we’re really saying now is that we’ve done some petrology and metallurgy on samples from Unicorn, which really confirmed our view that the copper and zinc evident at Unicorn is not particulary unusual,” Mr Cornelius said.

“It is often seen along the Lachlan Fold Belt, which runs down the Great Divide into Tasmania.

“The work we’ve done would say conventional metallurgical processes that are available can be utilised.”

Dart also told the stock exchange there had been a significant increase in the price of molybdenum, an essential metal in the manufacture of steel.

Molybdenum adds strength, hardness and toughness, as well as increasing steel’s resistance to corrosion.

Mr Cornelius said mining companies were always working to maximise the purity of the concentrate produced.

“Obviously the more pure concentrate you can produce, the higher price it will command on the international commodity market,” he said.

But he said the danger in trying to get too high a purity in copper, for example, was it could bring in other contaminants.

“We’re also getting on with water and other environmental and economic studies while we do the additional metallurgy we need to do,” Mr Cornelius said.

He said the board was not surprised by the metallurgy results and was confident “we can move forward”.