African Battery Metals plc, the AIM quoted African focused exploration company, is pleased to provide an update on the Company’s exploration strategy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”). ABM’s team, including CEO Roger Murphy, is currently on site on the Kisinka licence, near Lubumbashi, overseeing the development of the exploration programme.
In common with many market forecasts, ABM anticipates increasing worldwide demand for cobalt. But unlike most other cobalt explorers ABM’s focus is on the DRC, which hosts many significant cobalt mines and where cobalt can be mined and processed without the challenges that may face developers with arsenic rich ore elsewhere in the world. See Fig.1.
ABM is currently exploring the Kisinka property. The Company identified this licence because of its proximity to several large copper-cobalt producing mines. There are seven large mines within 25 kilometres of Kisinka. The two mines for which ABM has data together produce 7% of the world’s cobalt. Kisinka is a 53 square kilometre licence block which the Company believes sits on the right rock type to produce cobalt and copper. ABM is also aware that other companies, including existing producers, are exploring in this same area on blocks adjacent to Kisinka.
To date the team has carried out field mapping over a significant portion of the licence and a satellite imagery report and has identified a number of follow-up targets. The next step is soil sampling. This is the tool used throughout the region’s “Copper Belt” to look for elevated copper and cobalt grades in the soil which points to mineralisation at depth. First target is the Grand Conglomérat, which occurs running SE-NW on both sides of the Kisinka licence (akin to an inverted canoe buried in the ground with the Grand Conglomérat being the sides of the canoe). The Grand Conglomérat is the rock type which, elsewhere in the DRC, hosts the Kamoa-type deposit, the fourth largest worldwide copper discovery.
Given that bedrock is generally covered by a few metres of soil, a quick and efficient method to recover material closer to bedrock is to auger through the soil cover. The ABM team is actively working on that at the moment. “Fence lines” have been designed perpendicular to the target area trying to access the Grand Conglomérat for more direct and close interval sampling. The Company is augering holes every 25 metres to depths of up to 20 metres. As the loose weathered material is recovered by the auger, an XRF Olympus gun will pass over the material. XRF readings are helpful and provide the geologist with instantaneous feedback on metal content. The XRF, however, is not definitive and is therefore used only as an early identification tool. ABM will send all material with interesting anomalies to the independent labs for verification through assay prior to providing updates on what they have found.
Whilst the focus is very much on Kisinka, the team continues to evaluate other opportunities. ABM retains the option over a second licence, Sakania, and will investigate that licence when the wet season abates. ABM is also aware of other licences which are potentially available, some of which have had geological work already completed on them and which confirm copper/cobalt mineralisation. The Company believes that it may be able to acquire such licences for a modest and deferred front end fee, or to earn a majority stake through funding exploration.
At the Company’s existing gold project in Sierra Leone, Ferensola, the team has recently completed a surface soil sampling programme of the many artisanal gold workings in the area and will release the results in due course. Discussions on a farm-out of Ferensola continue and there have been several expressions of interest and a number of companies have signed NDAs and are in the dataroom.
12 March 2018