Canadaa-based Electra Battery Materials Corporation announced an updated mineral resource estimate (2023 MRE) for its Iron Creek Cobalt-Copper Project located in the Idaho Cobalt Belt, a 34-mile-long formation containing some of the largest primary cobalt deposits in North America, that paves the way for additional exploration activities and development of a preliminary economic assessment.
2023 resource showing the indicated and inferred resource domains as well as blocks with NSR values that are not included in the resource due to insufficient drilling to establish connectivity and DSO outlines.
Highlights of the MRE:
Indicated resource of 4.4 million tonnes grading at 0.19% cobalt for 18.4 million pounds cobalt and grading at 0.73% copper for 71.5 million pounds of copper.
Inferred resource of 1.2 million tonnes grading at 0.08% cobalt for 2.1 million pounds of cobalt and grading at 1.34% copper for 36.5 million pounds of copper.
As a result of infill and step-out drilling completed to date, Electra has upgraded 54% of the Inferred Resource category of the 2019 MRE to the Indicated category in 2023.
The mineral resource area of the Iron Creek Project covers an area of 1,652 meter strike length at a 780 meter width and extending to a height of 852 meters.
Within the Iron Creek project boundary there are seven document occurrences of metallic mineralization exposed at surface or encountered by drilling. Iron Creek is main mineralized body and Ruby is the second most important occurrence.
The 2023 MRE was prepared for a potential underground scenario with a US$87.00 net smelter return (NSR) cut-off grade.
Additional drilling is recommended to connect isolated intercepts on the east and at depth with the resource area, and advance the Ruby target to increase the inferred mineral resource.
Recommendations. Based on the results of the 2023 MRE, the authors of the report recommend that the project move to a two-phased work program. Phase one would include exploration drilling to drill off the Ruby Zone, step out from the current resource at 100 m stepouts, and evaluate the CAS target area. A phase two program would be conditional on favorable results from phase 1 and include completion of a preliminary economic assessment and updated technical report in phase 2.
Background. The Iron Creek Project consists of mining patents and exploration claims over an area of 3,300 hectares covering the strike extent of strata hosting mineralization. Historic underground development at Iron Creek includes 600 meters of drifting from three adits.
A road connects the property to a state highway and nearby towns, Challis and Salmon. Iron Creek is one of several cobalt-copper resources and prospects within the Idaho Cobalt Belt, a prospective mineralized system that contains the largest primary resources of cobalt in the United States, according to the US Geological Survey.
The Idaho Cobalt Belt deposits are sediment-hosted copper-cobalt systems that are comparable to some of the largest sedimentary hosted cobalt deposits in the world located in the DRC and Zambia.
The 2023 MRE follows the 2014 CIM Definition Standards on Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves.
These mineral resources are not mineral reserves, because they do not have demonstrated economic viability. The results are presented undiluted and are considered to have reasonable prospects of economic viability.
The estimate encompasses one large, mineralized envelope using the grade of the adjacent material when assayed or a value of zero when not assayed. Dilution zones encompassing all mineralized zones were created as part of the mineralized domain to reflect the dilution within the constraining shapes.
High-grade capping supported by statistical analysis was done on raw assay data before compositing and established on a per-metal basis, having a limitating value at 1% for cobalt and 10% for copper. Composites (1.5 m) were calculated within the zones using the grade of the adjacent material when assayed or a value of zero when not assayed.
The estimate was completed using a sub-block model in GEOVIA Surpac 2022. A 4m x 4m x 4m parent block size was used. Grade interpolation was obtained by Inverse Distance Squared (ID2) using hard boundaries. A density value of 2.78 g/cm3 was assigned to the mineralized domain.
The mineral resource estimate is classified as Indicated and Inferred. The Inferred category is defined with a minimum of three drill holes within the areas where the drill spacing shows reasonable geological and grade continuity at the maximum range of the modelized semi-variogram. The Indicated mineral resource category is defined with a minimum of three drill holes within the areas where the drill spacing shows reasonable geological and grade continuity at half the range of the modelized semi-variogram.
The 2023 MRE is locally constrained within Deswik Stope Optimizer shapes using a minimal mining width of 2.0m for a potential underground LH. An NSR-based cut-off grade was calculated using the following parameters: mining cost = US$55.00/t; processing cost = US$22.00/t; G&A = US$10.00/t. The cut-off grade should be re-evaluated in light of future prevailing market conditions (metal prices, mining costs etc.).
Electra retained InnovExplo Inc. to prepare an updated mineral resource estimate for the Iron Creek project and a supporting technical report.
The 2023 MRE is based on diamond drill holes drilled between 2017 and 2022 and a litho-structural model constructed in Leapfrog. The diamond drill hole database contains 86 surface (26,304.8 meters) and 31 underground diamond drill holes (5,670.8 meters). The database also contains 23,308 sampled intervals taken from 29,481 meters of drilled core. All the sampled intervals were assayed for copper and cobalt. The database also includes lithological, alteration as well as structural descriptions and measurements taken from drill core logs.
The mineral resource database covers the strike length of the mineral resource area at variable drill spacings ranging mainly from 10 to 50 meters.
Electra. Electra is a processor of low-carbon, ethically-sourced battery materials. Currently commissioning North America’s only cobalt sulfate refinery, Electra is executing a multipronged strategy focused on onshoring the electric vehicle supply chain.
Keys to this strategy are integrating black mass recycling and nickel sulfate production at Electra’s refinery located north of Toronto, advancing Iron Creek, its cobalt-copper exploration-stage project in the Idaho Cobalt Belt, and expanding cobalt sulfate processing into Bécancour, Québec.