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Horizon Minerals muscles into Greenbushes lithium territory

A regional snapshot around the lucrative Greenbushes lithium mine showing Horizon Minerals’ new project areas. Credit: File

Horizon Minerals has managed to get its foot on two lithium project areas with exquisite proximity to Greenbushes – the biggest hard-rock lithium mine in the world.

The company says it paid just $75,000 in cash and about $150,000 in shares to a private operator to get within about 10km of and along strike from Greenbushes, which has long been the most revered lithium mine in the world.

The deal will see Horizon pick up 100 per cent of two prospects, one about 10km to the south-east of Greenbushes and the other some 20km due south of Greenbushes. Both are centred on the South West town of Bridgetown.

Horizon says the tenements have seen very little historic exploration and represent an early-stage play in the right geological setting, with good proximity to the well-known Donnybrook-Bridgetown shear zone that hosts Greenbushes. The Donnybrook-Bridgetown shear zone is about 20km wide and continues on for about another 20km to the south of Greenbushes, where it almost borders one of Horizon’s new tenements.

Horizon has applied for another four tenements that also have proximity to Greenbushes and its new prospect areas and a much bigger fifth tenement that it says exhibits some curious historical soil results that might be related to a pegmatite intrusive. Pegmatites are no stranger to the area with the stellar Greenbushes pegmatite covering an area that is about 300m wide by a whopping 3km long.

Other smaller pegmatites were discovered way back in 1907, just 4km to the west of Horizon’s new southernmost tenement in an area known as Donovan’s Find.

Albermale is the biggest player in the region, holding vast tracts of land on either side of the Donnybrook-Bridgetown shear around Greenbushes – and it is on the hunt for more. The lithium goliath recently shelled out $30 million in cash to Lithium Power International for tenements in the area.

We continually assess opportunities to add value accretive projects to the business and moved quickly to secure this low-cost opportunity when it presented. These projects build upside and diversification to our portfolio of gold and silver-zinc projects with minimal distraction from our current focus. We will progress these projects in parallel with our commitment to transitioning to a gold producer in early 2024, commencing from our Cannon underground gold project. Horizon Minerals chief executive officer Grant Haywood

The company says its new Bridgetown-Greenbushes land represents an opportunistic entry into the revered Greenbushes lithium region. However, its primary focus remains on getting into early cashflow courtesy of its multitude of gold projects centred around Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.

The company has established a plan to toll treat high-grade ore, initially from three underground mines it is looking to develop in the Goldfields.

The first is the Cannon mine based on an existing historic open pit about 25km south-east of Kalgoorlie’s super-pit gold mine. Horizon says Cannon will churn out almost 16,000 ounces of gold for a capex outlay of just $4.3 million and will bank just over $10 million in free cash from the early-stage play.

Management has run its numbers at Cannon on a conservative gold price of $2600 an ounce and says it can produce an ounce of gold for an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of just $1873 – leading to a margin that will allow for plenty of wriggle room if needed.

Horizon will then look to quickly develop its Penny’s Find and then Rose Hill underground gold mines and it will also toll treat ore from them using a treatment plant in the region before tackling some of its 20-odd other gold deposits in the Goldfields.

The company’s plan to get into early cashflow by toll treating and minimising its capex spend will see it progressively generate cash that it can put towards building a central treatment plant of its own to eventually exploit the 1.26m ounces of gold it already has in resources scattered across the region.

And who knows, there just might be some lithium lurking at Greenbushes, too, providing an element of lithium blue sky for the gold and silver-focused company.

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