Future Metals’ (ASX: FME) 100 per cent owned Panton platinum group metals (PGM) and nickel project is in the Tier 1 mining jurisdiction of the eastern Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The project is situated on three granted mining licences, and hosts a JORC Code 2012–compliant mineral resource estimation (MRE) of 129 million tonnes at 1.2 grams per tonne PGM platinum, palladium and gold; 0.19 per cent nickel; 0.04 per cent copper; and 154 parts per million cobalt (1.66 grams per tonne palladium equivalent). This is at a cut-off grade of 0.9 grams per tonne palladium equivalent for contained metal of five-million-ounce PGM platinum, palladium and gold; 239,000 tonnes nickel; 48,000 tonnes copper; and 20,000 tonnes cobalt (6.9-million-ounce palladium equivalent).
The MRE includes a high-grade reef of 25 million tonnes at 3.57 grams per tonne PGM platinum, palladium and gold; 0.24 per cent nickel; 0.07 per cent copper; and 192 parts per million cobalt (3.86 grams per tonne palladium equivalent). This is for contained metal of 2.9-million-ounce PGM platinum, palladium and gold; 60,000 tonnes nickel; 18,000 tonnes copper; and 5000 tonnes cobalt (3.2-million-ounce palladium equivalent).
In addition to the already impressive MRE, the company has shown that there is a significant nickel, copper and platinum group element sulphide system underlying and encasing chromite and silicate-hosted reef mineralisation. Early drilling has confirmed the presence of magmatic sulphides along the outer portion of the system, with these systems being shown to host larger accumulations of sulphides towards its centre – particularly if its structure is in the shape of a keel. Future Metals has proven that Panton has formed a very large keel using gravity and magnetics modelling, and also has supporting electromagnetic conductors.
‘It’s fair to say we are extremely excited to be exploring the previously untested basal contact and keel positions at Panton. It has already shown itself to be an incredible deposit-forming environment, and we believe we’ve barely scratched the surface of what sits outside of the existing reef system,’ says Future Metals Managing Director and CEO Jardee Kininmonth.
Future Metals has progressed a scoping study on the existing MRE, while carrying out test work programs in ore sorting, physical separation and flotation, as well as preliminary investigations into hydrometallurgical processing routes.
‘The base case at Panton is to pursue a project based solely on the underground, high-grade portion of the resource to produce a saleable concentrate,’ says Kininmonth.
Future Metals is progressing multiple pathways to deliver value at Panton, both through studies and drilling.
The other area the company expects to deliver value is the macro environment, with PGMs being subject to an incredibly shaky supply-side, where Russia and South Africa produce approximately 80 per cent of the world’s platinum and palladium.
Russian supply is being increasingly disintegrated from original equipment manufacturer’s supply chains, while the South African major producers have perennial labour relations and power availability issues.
This is all while hydrogen and fuel cell vehicle technology is rapidly advancing, with platinum a key input into these industries.
There are multiple tailwinds for the PGM sector, particularly for projects in world-class jurisdictions like Panton.