Thor Mining (LSE:THR) enjoyed a 6pc rise to 0.8p a share on Tuesday morning after announcing the commissioning of a resource estimate at its part-held Moonta copper project in South Australia. Moonta stakeholder Enviro Copper has engaged a mining consultancy called Mining Plus to prepare the estimate for several Moonta deposits considered amenable to in-situ recovery (ISR). Numerous drill holes made over several decades will provide the basis for this resource estimation.

Based in Adelaide, Moonta sits within the historical ‘copper triangle’ of South Australia. Here, around 300,000ts of copper was mined and processed from the 1860s until the 1920s. The site is thought to contain an ISR amenable exploration target of between 238Mt and 310Mt at a grade range of 0.18pc-0.23pc copper.

Enviro Copper is earning up to a 75pc interest in Moonta from ASX-listed Andromeda Metals. As part of an agreement announced last month, Thor can earn up to a 30pc stake in Enviro Copper before listing activities. These are ‘potentially scheduled’ for later this year, according to Tuesday’s update.

Thor’s executive chairman Mick Billing called Tuesday’s development ‘very exciting’ for the firm’s copper strategy.

‘The non-invasive production technique of In-situ Recovery of copper has the potential to co-exist without significant disruption to farming and once completed, have little to no impact on future agricultural land use,’ he added. ‘ISR is an extension of proven technology and has been in use since the 1960's. With recent technical advances ISR can now offer a lower footprint and is likely to find further application in mineral recovery fields because it can coexist with other land use activities. The Moonta project, hosts oxide copper minerals and some secondary sulphide copper minerals in deep weathered troughs, indicating early stage potential for copper production via ISR methods.’

Last month’s deal also saw Thor transfer its interest into the Adelaide-based Kapunda copper project into Enviro. Kapunda hosts an in-situ recovery (ISR) amenable inferred mineral resource estimate of 119,000ts of contained copper.

Thor held its interest in the product through a private Australian company called Environmental Copper Recovery (ECR). Thor announced an agreement to earn up to 60pc in ECR last August in exchange for convertible loans worth up to $1.8m.

ECR holds an agreement to earn, in two stages, up to 75pc of the rights over metals that may be recovered in the Kapunda deposit from ASX-listed miner Terramin. Under the Enviro MOU, Thor relinquished its interest in ECR in exchange for a 25pc, pre-listing, interest in Enviro for A$0.6m. It will also hold the right to acquire a further 5pc seed capital interest in the vehicle for $0.4m.

Thor said the new combined Enviro entity would provide a strategic opportunity to build a substantial ISR-focused copper exploration, development, and production business with an initial focus on Australia. It said a key strategic target would be the ‘timely development’ of Kapunda into production, which would demonstrate the viability of ISR. This model would then be applied to the larger scale Moonta project. Beyond its two initial interests, Enviro will aim to develop an expanded portfolio of ISR copper opportunities.

Author: Daniel Flynn

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