Multi-commodity explorer Northern Cobalt (ASX: N27) has unveiled positive metallurgical test work results on surface samples from its Snettisham project in Alaska, with analysis revealing a high-grade magnetite concentrate can be generated with vanadium credits.

The test work on surface samples produced a 63% iron and 0.64% vanadium pentoxide concentrate, with these recoveries achieved at a “very coarse” grind size of 250 microns.

“The results of the metallurgical test work at Snettisham are particularly encouraging as they show that a very coarse grind size can produce a premium product,” Northern Cobalt managing director Michael Schwarz told Small Caps.

Mr Schwarz explained the ability to generate a high-quality magnetite concentrate from coarse grain size generally translated to lower operating costs.

“The results also demonstrate a consistent, premium product can be produced from both the high-grade and low-grade material allowing flexibility in sourcing mining material,” Mr Schwarz added.

Last month, Northern Cobalt noted it had widened its focus from vanadium and gold at the project to include iron ore as a result of the mineral’s surging price this year.

The company debuted a magnetite iron ore exploration target for Snettisham between 297-551Mt at 28-52% iron (high-grade target).

An exploration target was also estimated for the low-grade ore between 1.1-2.1Bt at 14-26% iron.

The main iron ore anomaly at the project has been delineated over 3,800m by 1,500m and is along the cost of the Snettisham Peninsula.

According to Northern Cobalt, this body averages 20% iron, which has been calculated from historic drilling data and rock chip samples.

The high-grade body extends 2,500m by 600m and grades have been estimated at 40% iron based on magnetic susceptibility calculations.

Northern Cobalt plans to begin a diamond drilling program at the project in August, which will test the grade and continuity of the high-grade mineralisation.

The program will also provide more samples for ongoing metallurgical test work.

Snettisham project

In addition to being prospective for several minerals, Snettisham is close to key infrastructure including a hydroelectric power plant for electricity, access to a deep water channel and bulk handling and transport facilities, and a nearby experienced workforce to underpin year-round operations, with Alaska’s capital city Juneau only 50km from the project.

The Snettisham tenements host three historic gold mines and are also located within Alaska’s 7Moz Juneau gold belt.

One of the closest active gold mines to Snettisham is Hecla Mining Company’s Greens Creek polymetallic silver, gold, zinc and lead mine, which has 840,000oz of gold.

Iron ore market

In the Office of Chief Economist’s latest Resources and Energy Quarterly, which was released this morning, Australia’s resources and energy export earnings are expected to reach a record $275 billion in the 2018-2019 financial year.

Driving these record earnings is the high iron ore price which was triggered by a tailings dam collapse in Brazil and multiple mine closures, which has tightened the market and pushed the price up.

The report anticipates the 2019-2020 financial year will bring a new record with exports forecast to hit $285 billion, again, underpinned by higher iron ore prices.

By late morning, shares in Northern Cobalt were steady at $0.033.

www.ferroalloynet.com