Mawson Resources Limited (TSX:MAW) (Frankfurt:MXR) (PINKSHEETS: MWSNF) announces the discovery of highly significant cobalt enrichment associated with previously identified gold mineralization at the Company’s 100% owned Rajapalot project in northern Finland. Following an extensive multi-element drill core re-assay program, followed by a mineralogical QEMSCAN study led by the Geological Survey of Finland to determine mineral association, numerous intervals have been identified which mirror and extend gold mineralized zones. These drill results are considered highly encouraging in the context of existing high-grade gold mineralization.
Cobalt is a key component in the cathode of most lithium-ion batteries and is considered crucial in the switch to electric mobility and greener generation and storage of energy. As a result, the cobalt price has escalated approximately 300% within the past two years. Cobalt is on the European Commission’s critical raw minerals list, delivering a strong mandate to discover and develop local and ethically produced supply alternatives.
With the world’s largest cobalt refinery, Freeport Cobalt, located only 400 kilometres south in Kokkola, Rajapalot is ideally positioned to play an important role as a potential sustainable and transparent supplier to the fast-growing European lithium ion battery supply chain.
Mr. Hudson, Chairman and CEO, states, “This re-assay program of drill holes from Rajapalot has highlighted a significant opportunity for Mawson in the battery metals sector. Gold remains the key commodity at Rajapalot by value, however the identification of widespread cobalt enrichment in minerals that are the source of most cobalt mined today, has the potential to add a significant by-product credit to the project. Owing to Finland’s strong position in the processing of cobalt sulphide concentrates, Rajapalot presents as an attractive option for future ethically-sourced cobalt for Europe. To date, less than half the holes drilled at Rajapalot have been assayed for cobalt. Based on this early success, Mawson is now undertaking an extensive re-assay program with the results released in the coming months. Further mineralogical and metallurgical testwork is also planned.”
Although the exploration focus will remain for gold at Rajapalot, cobalt adds significant value as a potential by-product with a 20-30% increase in calculated gold equivalent (“AuEq”) grade over gold grade when incorporating cobalt. Cobalt distribution is strongly correlated with gold. However, cobalt appears to be more widespread in and around gold intervals and grades appear more consistent than gold (Table 1, Figures 1, 2 and 3). Cobalt-only zones also form peripheral to the gold-bearing zones (i.e. PAL0048 7.9 m @ 1081 ppm cobalt and 0.1 g/t Au).
Assuming a predominant stratabound control, the true thickness of the mineralized interval is interpreted to be approximately 90-95% of the sampled thickness. Intersections are reported with a lower cut of 0.5 g/t AuEq over 1 metre minimum width, no upper cut-off was applied. The gold equivalent (AuEq) value was calculated using the following formula: AuEq g/t = Au g/t + (Co_ppm/481) with assumed prices of Co $88,185/t; and Au $1,320/oz, where 1 g/t Au is equivalent to 0.048 % Co.
Approximately half of the Rajapalot drill core remains to be assayed for cobalt (Figure 1). Mawson expects to submit over 3,000 samples for assay in the next 3 months for determination of cobalt and associated metals. Additional gold-cobalt results are shown in Table 1 and strip logs showing rock types and multi-element geochemistry are shown in Figures 2 and 3.
Mawson engaged the Geological Survey of Finland (“GTK”) and Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter (UK), to undertake mineralogical studies of cobalt at Rajapalot. Optical petrography, X-ray tomography and QEMSCAN suggest that cobalt is contained within the minerals cobaltite and cobalt pentlandite, which have metallurgical properties that are potentially favourable for future recovery. Both cobalt-bearing minerals are mined and processed in other deposits, and supply much of the world’s current cobalt demand. At Rajapalot, cobaltite occurs as equant crystals with well-defined grain sizes, while cobalt pentlandite occurs only as exsolution flames in pyrrhotite with highly variable grain sizes. Further work is required to understand the spatial and grade distribution of cobalt-bearing minerals and their likely metallurgical behavior.
Cobalt in Finland
Finland plays a significant role in the global cobalt supply chain. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) produced 54% of the world’s cobalt in 2016 whilst 80% of cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries is refined inChina.
Half of the world’s non-Chinese production (10% of total production) comes from Freeport Cobalt, the world’s largest single cobalt refinery, located only 400 kilometres from Mawson’s Rajapalot project in Kokkola, Finland. Freeport Cobalt is a joint venture between Freeport-McMoRan (56%), Lundin Mining Corporation (24%) and La Générale des Carrières et des Mines (20%) (or Gécamines, the DRC state mining company). A significant amount of feedstock for Freeport Cobalt comes via a long-term supply agreement with the Chinese-owned Tenke Fungurume mine in the DRC. A future Finnish domestic source of cobalt from Rajapalot would satisfy the recent announcements by Finland and Sweden that the countries will work together on a traceable ledger for sustainable minerals, which are considered crucial for achieving climate goals.
Owing to the growth in the electrification of transport and need for storage of renewable energy, the battery sector has become an important driver of cobalt demand. Demand for lithium-ion batteries is surging, and this demand is expected to support both price and volume for the cobalt market for years to come. With cobalt on the European Commission’s critical raw minerals list, there is a strong mandate to secure local and ethical supplies of cobalt, which are likely to contribute to further tightened supply.
In other news, reporting of assays from the winter drill program at Rajapalot will soon continue, where 14 holes out of 75 holes have already been made.
Core intervals averaging 1 metre for mineralized samples and 2 metres for barren samples were cut in half at the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) core facilities in Rovaniemi, Finland. The remaining half core is retained for verification and reference purposes. Analytical samples were transported by Mawson personnel or commercial transport from site to the commercial laboratories. The QA/QC program of Mawson consists of the systematic insertion of certified standards of known gold content, with blanks at the beginning of each batch. Inter-laboratory comparisons of gold assays have also been made by Mawson.
CRS Minlab Oy facility in Kempele, Finland were used for gold only assays for drill holes PAL0008–0026; 0028–0036; 0038–0049; 0051–0063; 0065–0069; 0071; 0074; 0076–0082 and PAL series drill holes reported 2018. Samples were prepared and analyzed for gold at Kempele using the PAL1000 technique which involves grinding the sample in steel pots with abrasive media in the presence of cyanide, followed by measuring the gold in solution with flame AAS equipment. The QA/QC program of Mawson consists of the systematic insertion of certified standards of known gold content, duplicate samples by quartering the core, and blanks the within interpreted mineralized rock. In addition, CRS inserts blanks and standards into the analytical process.
ALS Global’s sample preparation facilities in Piteå, Sweden or Sodankyla,Finland were used for drill holes PRAJ0001-0002; 0020; 0022-0108 and PAL0001–0007; 0027; 0037; 0050; 0064; 0070; 0073; 0075. Samples were then sent to ALS Global’s analytical laboratories in Vancouver, Canada or Loughrea, Ireland to be analyzed by Au-ICP21, GRA-21 (over-range gold), ME-MS41u and ME-MS61u and ME-MS61 techniques. Where multi-element techniques reached upper detection limits, over-range measurements were made using the OG62 method.
Labtium Oy (“Labtium”) laboratory in Rovaniemi, Finland were used for gold and multi-element assays for drill holes PRAJ0003-0018; 0021. Samples were prepared and analyzed for Au by method 705P (fire assay) and multi-element analysis by XRF technique (pellet), method +175X.
The qualified person for Mawson’s Finnish projects, Dr. Nick Cook, President for Mawson and Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining Metallurgy has reviewed and verified the contents of this release.
About Mawson Resources Limited
Mawson Resources Limited is an exploration and development company. Mawson has distinguished itself as a leading Nordic Arctic exploration company with a focus on the flagship Rompas and Rajapalot gold projects in Finland.
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