Alta Zinc Limited (ASX: AZI) has lodged applications for two exploration licences (ELs) encompassing two of the most commercially significant copper mining districts in Italy.
Managing Director, Geraint Harris, said both licences contain multiple high-grade copper mines that produced a significant portion of Italy’s copper and manganese up to the early 1970s. None of the mines or the ELs have been subjected to modern exploration prior to closure.
Alta believes significant exploration potential exists to expand existing deposits laterally and at depth, and to discover new deposits as shown by analogous Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS) deposits mined in recent years. This will initially be through the application of low-cost exploration techniques.
Most of the mines closed between the 1940s and early 1970s at a time when commodity prices were low and exploration was not deemed a priority. They were largely exploited from underground and at relatively shallow depths focussing on the high-grade mineralisation which outcropped at surface.
There is nominally from 10m to 100m of sedimentary cover over most of the target areas, which would have presented exploration difficulties for techniques available at the time.
However, this presents highly prospective target areas for the modern exploration techniques that Alta will apply.
Since drilling started at Pian Bracca our Italian team have been very focused on exploration at Gorno which has delivered excellent results,” Mr Harris said.
“Over the last 12 months, we have also considered ways in which to leverage our position in Italy to build an accretive and complementary metals portfolio.
“We are very excited by our application for these two new base metals projects that offer strong growth potential and to take advantage of the growing EV metal deficit in Europe. These projects are very complementary, however do not take our focus from Gorno and will add significant value for our shareholders.
“Both ELs have excellent potential to extend the known deposits laterally and at depth, and our plan is to commence an initial low-impact and efficient program of geophysics and surface sampling once granted.”
The mines in the licence areas were typified by their unusually high copper grades, for example within the ELs the average grade mined at Libiola was ca 7% Cu and at the Corchia Mine ca 3-5% Cu. The Monte Bianco EL also contains the old Gambetesa mine which was, at the time, the largest manganese mine in Europe and operated from 1939 to 1971, with mined grades of 28-30% Mn to produce around 50,000t of manganese metal per annum.
The ELs are located close to existing infrastructure (roads, centres of population, water and power) and within easy logistical reach of the hub port of Genoa. The ELs offer year-round exploration access over an extensive historical mining footprint in gently undulating relief below 1,000m level.
Mr Harris said Alta’s key focus for exploration expenditure remains the flagship Gorno Zinc Project, where drilling is currently continuing in the priority target zones of Pian Bracca and Ponente.