Victoria’s first zinc mine set for 2011 start

A copper-zinc project discovered about 30 years ago by WMC Resources in the high country of far north-east Victoria could be in production by 2011 according to project owner, Jabiru Metals.

The opening day of the inaugural Paydirt 2008 Victoria Resources Conference in Melbourne was told that a detailed drilling programme has begun on the Stockman project, 25 kilometres from Omeo.

The managing director of Jabiru Metals (ASX: JML), Gary Comb said a budget of between $A10-15 million ($US8.63-12.9 M) had been set aside for the program on the leases – a former small-scale base metals mine that was shortlived by a company that took over from WMC. The aim is to achieve an initial one million tonnes a year copper and zinc mining operation within three years or so.

The exploration and resource modelling programme is targeting Stockman’s two relatively shallow VMS-style deposits – Currawong and Wilga. Stockman was formerly Benambra until taken over by Jabiru about two years ago.

“Mineralisation commences as shallow as 90 metres and goes at least 300m deep but that has been the extent of historic drilling and it remains open at depth,” Comb said.

“We know there are good recoveries from the project – primarily zinc and copper – but it also has strong gold, silver and lead profiles and that gives us some confidence to evolve other metals concentrates,” he said.

“Significantly, there is something like $A20 M ($US172.6 M) worth of existing infrastructure in the ground that we can re-access.

“Jabiru has drilled into the deposits and established that the water table is below the top of Stockman’s old workings so we are confident of it being a reasonably easy dry mining environment.”

Comb said any mine development at Stockman would have to have considerable scale – and on the company’s scoping work to date, would require a minimum 1 Mt per annum throughput.

He told delegates the drilling programme would be continuing for some time – Jabiru using a track-mounted diamond drill rig to keep the resource definition momentum going.

This will be Jabiru’s second project as late last year it commissioned the Jaguar copper-zinc-lead-silver mine in Western Australia’s north eastern goldfields.

Like other Australian zinc miners, Jabiru has been hard hit by that metal’s softening price – an issue that has seen production rationalizations by Perilya Ltd (ASX: PEM) and CBH Resources Ltd (ASX: CBH). Like those two companies Jabiru’s share price has been hard hit, ending today at A32.5 cents (US28¢) compared to a 2008 peak in January of $A1.30 ($US1.13).


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