Scientists have discovered a 'vast prospective frontier' for copper in Australia just as demand for batteries is set to soar

Tesla’s Powerwall and batteries like it are going to transform home energy use. Photo: Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Copper explorers in Queensland and the Northern Territory will be pleased to know there are still plenty of places to find the red metal.

Government scientists revealed last week that “potential hot spots with elevated levels of copper have been discovered” in an area on the Queensland-Northern Territory border.

The new discovery lies between the areas’ two major resource hubs – Tennant Creek in the NT and Mt Isa in Queensland.

“The region between them is a vast prospective exploration frontier that has been largely unexplored,” federal mining minister Matt Canavan said.

“Surface soil samples were collected at 776 sites in this region and analysed for their metal content. The data reveals new potential for elements such as copper, zinc and nickel.”

Copper is a crucial material in building and construction but its use in electric cars and charging infrastructure is increasingly driving demand.

Within 10 years total copper consumption in all types of electric vehicles could account for 5 per cent of the global market.

Nickel juniors are also enjoying increased investor attention after the price of the steel-making and battery commodity recently hit four-year highs.

Copper demand from the growing electric vehicle market is set to jump from 185,000 tonnes currently to around 1.1 million tonnes by 2025.

Within 10 years total copper consumption in all types of electric vehicles could account for 5 per cent of the global market.

There is also a supply deficit looming with existing mines at full capacity, declining grades and a shortage of new projects coming into production.

Here are some players who have projects near the Queensland and Northern Territory border compiled by ASX data provider MakCorp.

Mt Isa

Aeon Metals (ASX:AML), which has a market cap of about $214 million, is largely focused on its Walford Creek copper and cobalt project that is located further north in Queensland near the border with the Northern Territory.

However, the company also has interests in the Constance Range and the Isa North, West and South copper projects, which are all located in the Mt Isa region.

Much larger copper producer Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR), which is worth around $1.3 billion, has a large exploration landholding of 2400 sq km in the eastern succession of the Mt Isa region.

Sandfire’s projects in the region include the Altia Project – a joint venture with Minotaur Exploration (ASX:MEP) to earn up to 80 per cent, as well as the wholly owned Breena Plains, Cannington West, Black Rock and Kennedy Highway projects.


Canada’s Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C), recently picked up the Eva copper and gold project in Cloncurry by taking over Altona Mining.

Copper Mountain, which is now listed on the ASX at a value of $56 million, says it has the largest mineral tenure position in the northwest Queensland region with an area of 3970 sq km.

Cloncurry is home to several large mines including Swiss heavyweight Glencore’s Mount Isa and Ernest Henry copper mines.

Tennant Creek

On the Northern Territory side is Blaze International (ASX:BLZ), which counts well-known mining personalities Tolga Kumova and Klaus Eckhof as its strategic advisors.

Blaze, which has a market cap of $11 million, can earn an 80 per cent interest in the Barkly copper and gold project located around 30km east of the town of Tennant Creek.

Emmerson Resources (ASX:ERM), meanwhile, is exploring and producing in Tennant Creek.

While the $37 million company has started small-scale production from its Edna Beryl gold mine, the broader Tennant Creek project is also very prospective for copper.

In April, Emmerson revealed it had uncovered grades of up to 11.4 per cent copper at its Jasper Hills prospect. Over 1.5 per cent copper is generally considered high-grade.

While copper is used in building and construction, it is also used in electric car batteries, solar panels and mobile phones.

This article first appeared at Stockhead, Australia’s leading news source for emerging ASX-listed companies. Read the original here. Follow Stockhead on Facebook or Twitter.

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