Jubilee Metals Group plc (LON:JLP), the AIM and Altx traded metals processing company, has announced key milestones achieved in its southern copper and cobalt operations in Zambia. The Company’s cobalt operation, at its Sable Refinery, has successfully achieved the production of export grade cobalt product allowing the ramp-up of its operations to commence.
Sable has also successfully commissioned the direct leaching and refining of copper sulphide material in addition to the recovery and refining of its copper oxide concentrates. In doing so, it has successfully bypassed the traditional power intensive, smelting process used by the industry for the refining of copper sulphide materials, significantly expanding Sable’s processing capability.
· Jubilee achieved export quality cobalt production, allowing the commencement of the ramp-up of operations
· The Company will initially target the production of 50 tonnes of contained cobalt metal which is the equivalent of approximately 220 tonnes of final product, before ramping up to the 1 200 tonnes of contained cobalt metal annual capacity, which equates to 5 280 tonnes of final product
· This achievement forms part of the development and design of the much larger Northern Refining Project
· The cobalt, seen as a by-product to the Southern Refining operations, holds the potential to significantly contribute to overall earnings with targeted margins at capacity expected to exceed 45% and first sale of product targeted to commence end of December 2022
· Direct leaching of copper sulphide from mixed copper concentrates achieved at operational scale on a sustainable basis, resulting in improved recoveries on overall copper treated.
This process by-passes the need for traditional power intensive smelting of copper sulphide concentrates, offering additional growth opportunities from Sable’s operational capability from the processing of mixed copper oxide and copper sulphide concentrates
Following its first production of export quality cobalt carbonate, Sable is now able to commence with the commercial production of cobalt targeting an initial production rate of 50 tonnes per month of contained cobalt metal for the next three months, thereafter, stepping up to targeted capacity of 100 tonnes per month.
The cobalt production is expected to make a significant contribution to the earnings potential of the Southern Copper refining operations with margins expected to exceed 45% at capacity. This establishes Sable as one of the few cobalt refineries in Zambia able to process and refine cobalt containing materials at commercial scale.
Sable has also successfully achieved the direct leaching of copper sulphide from mixed copper concentrates at operational scale. This leading refining approach offers further diversity to its operational capability to target mixed copper oxide and copper sulphide concentrates which Jubilee has identified as a significant growth opportunity.
In its integrated annual report, Jubilee noted the water and power infrastructure challenges present in Zambia and the constraints these have had on the newly commissioned Roan concentrator. The water constraints will be addressed with the upgrading of the water infrastructure commencing the first week of December. This follows the award of a water licence to Roan allowing it to own and operate a dedicated water supply infrastructure for its operations. The intervention project is expected to be completed over 6 days during which time the water infrastructure will be upgraded and recommissioned. The power constraints experienced at Roan have been resolved satisfactorily.
Leon Coetzer, CEO commented: “Jubilee’s Project Roan is part of our Southern Copper Refining Strategy (“the South”), and the predominant supplier of concentrates, produced from perceived waste to the Company’s copper and cobalt Sable Refinery, which is adjacent to Jubilee’s Kabwe tailings resource in Zambia.
“The success and the lessons learned from the South are fundamental to the development and de-risking of Jubilee’s Northern Refining Strategy (“the North”) where we will implement the same strategy, but at scale.
“With approximately 264 million tonnes of copper-containing surface tailings secured in the North, the focus is now on integrating the successful technology of the Sable plant at a much larger scale into the North.
“With such a large resource secured, the North offers the potential to far exceed the original stated
Production target of 15 000 tonnes per annum of copper. A key next decision for the implementation of the North is to lock in the capacity of the North refinery which sets in motion the final design capacities for the concentrators that supplies the refinery with concentrated copper and concentrate materials.
“With the now proven processes in the South, the Company expects to receive the final recommendation on capacities from its design teams by mid-January 2023. I look forward to updating shareholders in this regard.”