Australian copper hopefuls are rubbing their hands together with glee, with exploration programs peaking just at the right time as a range of factors send the copper price to decade-long highs.

One of the ASX’s most promising copper up-and-comers is Castillo Copper Ltd (ASX:CCZ) (LON:CCZ) (FRA:7OR), which is making strong progress with its strategy to become a mid-tier copper producer.

Two other copper juniors with strong projects presented to investors at a Proactive copper-focused online conference on Tuesday – Alicanto Minerals Ltd (ASX:AQI) and Havilah Resources Ltd (ASX:HAV) (FRA:FWL). Castillo will present at a future Proactive webinar.

This all comes as copper prices jumped past US$9,000 a tonne on Monday for the first time since September 2011, driven by a supply crunch and an expectation of increased demand from China.

That’s just shy of its all-time high of US$10,190 a tonne back in February 2011 when the European debt crisis was at its peak – and given Goldman Sachs has said the market is “on the cusp of the tightest phase in what we expect to be the largest deficit in a decade”, the price could yet go higher.

Castillo’s Big One

As reported by Proactive in mid-February, Castillo has further extended its Big One Deposit in northwest Queensland following the final results from its 2020 drilling program and historical assays.

Factoring in the extensive data points from the three drilling campaigns, which highlighted mineralisation is open in all directions, Castillo is now preparing a geophysics campaign, ahead of modelling a resource update before finally applying for a mining licence.

Castillo Copper managing director Simon Paull said the company was excited by the highly promising Big One Deposit, located within the Mt Oxide Project in the rich Mt Isa copper-belt.

“All systems are go as we accelerate developing Big One Deposit, especially aiming to extend known mineralisation further and identify new test-drill targets,” he said.

“Our two new initiatives are now taking shape, with an upcoming IP survey being planned and JORC modelling now underway.

“Discovering FME’s assays was a windfall, as we can now optimistically assert that Big One Deposit is a high-grade copper system.”

But that’s not all – Castillo believes Mt Oxide delivers further exploration upside with the Arya Prospect (with an inferred 130-metre thick massive sulphide conductor) set for drilling, plus a further eight targets in its sights.

And that’s just Mt Oxide, one part of the company’s aim to be a mid-tier copper producer.

It also owns four highly prospective copper projects in Zambia, near large, established operating mines with major exploration upside, and the high-grade historic Cangai Copper Mine in NSW, which has a JORC-compliant resource of 3.2 million tonnes at 3.3% and up to 14.45% copper in assayed diamond core intersections.

Castillo is considering divesting its BHA Project, close to the world-class Broken Hill silver-zinc-lead deposit.

Alicanto presents “massive opportunity”

Alicanto Minerals is focused on its portfolio of historic, high-grade copper-gold and polymetallic skarn (copper-gold-zinc-lead-silver) projects in the well-known Bergslagen mining district of Sweden.

Its managing director, Peter George, told investors this week the projects were once described as “the treasury of Sweden”.

“Two projects of such high grade and value that they were coveted by multiple Swedish kings, and were instrumental in laying the foundations of a very wealthy country,” he said.

George said Alicanto had undertaken a body of work over the past year that had revitalised the projects, culminating in a $6 million capital raise last year to fund an extensive 20,000-metre follow-up drilling program at the Greater Falun Copper-Gold Project.

“If we find what we’re looking for – and there’s a lot of smoke about to suggest that we will – our current market cap of only roughly $40 million is going to stick in your mind as a missed opportunity,” he said.

“We are aiming for a $100 million market cap by the end of the year.”

The presentation can be viewed by clicking here.

Havilah confident in South Australia

Havilah Resources’ portfolio of projects in northeast South Australia hosts copper, gold, cobalt and iron ore resources, and its current focus is on its flagship Kalkaroo copper-gold deposit, near Broken Hill, which also has rare earth potential.

Recent drilling at the deposit confirmed further economic copper and gold results with key intercepts returned from the fault intersection zone, in part lying outside of the current Kalkaroo JORC mineral resource envelope, including:

  • 16 metres of 1.31 g/t gold from 69-85 metres;
  • 10 metres of 1.51 g/t gold from 102-112 metres; and
  • 13 metres of 1.37% copper and 0.55 g/t gold from 133-146 metres

Its technical director Dr Chris Giles told investors the company hoped to start site works before the end of the year, on a gigantic ore reserve of 100 million tonnes of copper.

Dr Giles also heavily emphasised Havilah’s attractiveness to investors looking to gain exposure to copper.

“Havilah has by far the highest leverage to copper of our peers,” he said.

“$1 invested in Havilah buys you more copper in ore reserves than any of our ASX-listed peers, and it’s the same story with copper-equivalent resources.”

The presentation can be viewed by clicking here.

– Daniel Paproth