China’s falling fluorspar, tungsten and tin shakes up Molna

A multi-product scenario looks promising at Minemakers Moina project in Tasmania. The company has an option to purchase an initial 80% equity for A$1.25 million. Its future looks bright due to China’s falling exports in a number of its prospective products.   Minemakers reports increased international interest in the Moina project in northern Tasmania due to significant fluorspar price rises caused by Chinese export cut-backs. In-fill assaying is in progress with the objective of a new and JORC-compliant interim resource estimate being commissioned in the first quarter 2008 without any further drilling. Detailed metallurgical test work is underway in Europe, aimed at assessment of recovery of multiple commodities.

Minemakers says “recent trends in commodity prices are favourable for Moina. It is a deposit of potential international significance consisting of a mix of fluorspar, tungsten, tin, base metals (including zinc, bismuth and molybdenum) and magnetite. Fluorspar is the prime mineral containing the element fluorine and is the basic feedstock for all fluorine-based chemicals – which are essential for aluminium and uranium metal production, all refrigeration and air-conditioning and used in plastics, glass and the steel industry.

“China is the world’s largest supplier of fluorspar and, until recently, has produced sufficient for its own needs and for export. This resulted in a balanced supply-demand situation and stable pricing. However, it was reported at the recent international Fluorspar 07 Conference, attended by Minemakers, that Chinese production has fallen due to mine depletion, resulting in lower exports with further declines in exports expected in future. This has driven a significant rise in fluorspar prices recently from $130/t to $230/t. As a result of this price rise, Minemakers has received enquiries concerning purchases of product and interest in seeking equity in the development.

“Magnetite prices have been strong, large deals are being done on Western Australian deposits, and there is widespread reporting of possible price rises in 2008. Tin price has doubled over the last year. Significantly, China, the world’s largest producer, moved into a supply deficit in August. Tungsten prices have remained firm and China, again the world’s largest producer, has flagged further export cuts for 2008. Bismuth price has almost quadrupled over the last year.”

Based on historic drilling, Minemakers considers that a mineralisation target in excess of 50 Mt is reasonable for Moina. Historically, it was first assessed as a fluorspar project, then a tungsten-tin project and subsequently a base metals and gold project. To date, it has never been appraised in total and the assay database, apart from fluorine, is incomplete. Minemakers has recently embarked on the task of infilling the assay database from the cores of all the Moina drill holes stored at Minerals Resources Tasmania, and covering all known and possible elements of interest.

If it proved feasible to develop, for example, mining and processing at a rate of 3 Mt/y, this would see the project producing around 15% of current non-Chinese world fluorspar output (75% recovery basis) and up to 25% of non-Chinese tungsten production (100% recovery basis).

The comprehensive metallurgical testwork program aims to build on the historic database. It includes mineralogical studies; tungsten and tin recovery by gravity; fluorspar, tungsten and sulphides recovery by flotation and magnetite recovery by magnetic separation. Results are due in early 2008.

Minemakers considers the old drilling will probably prove to be at sufficient density to allow an initial JORC-compliant Inferred resource estimate by independent consultants. The company has begun an infill assaying program so as to get a full set of data for the known mineralisation and for an assessment of whether there may also be additional minerals not previously assayed, but whose presence is a possibility based on analogy with similar deposits.

After receipt of the metallurgical results and the geostatistician’s appraisal of the current drilling density and new assays, it is anticipated that infill drilling will be undertaken as required to bring the resource estimation to at least indicated status. Minemakers has begun collation of other data necessary for a feasibility study, including topographic, land use and heritage and flora matters.