The Couflens Project (France)

In June 2017 Apollo Minerals Limited completed the acquisition of an 80% interest in the Couflens tungsten-copper-gold project (“Couflens Project”) in southern France. The project includes the historic Salau mine, which was one of the world’s highest grade tungsten mines and which produced around 11,500 tonnes of WO3 in concentrate.

The mine closed in 1986 following the precipitous fall in the tungsten price caused by Chinese dumping of tungsten into global markets. The mine is open at depth and the continuation of the mineralised system has been confirmed by drilling below the base of the existing underground development.

The mine closed in 1986 following the precipitous fall in the tungsten price caused by Chinese dumping of tungsten into global markets. The mine is open at depth and the continuation of the mineralised system has been confirmed by drilling below the base of the existing underground development.

In addition to tungsten, significant gold and copper values were recorded in the high-grade Veronique zone at the base of the Salau mine, which is largely untapped and is open at depth. Substantial news flow is expected as Apollo’s geological team rapidly advances a work program designed to facilitate the estimation and reporting of Mineral Resources in the Salau mine area. Works will include a review of historical data, mine sampling and drilling utilising existing underground development.

Salau mine’s existing underground development and infrastructure will also be examined to determine the most efficient method to progress mine exploration and development activities and future mine reactivation.

Additional tungsten-copper-gold prospects have been identified within the broader project area and surface exploration programs will be undertaken with a view to further assessing these prospects and generating new targets” for the exploration comment.

Exploration potential exists for tungsten, copper and gold both within the Salau mine area and within the wider Couflens project area.

The Company will undertake the work program with a strong commitment to all aspects of sustainable development with an integrated approach to economic, social, environmental, health and safety management.

Project Overview

The Couflens Project comprises a recently granted exploration licence that covers a 42km2 area in the Pyrenees region and includes the historic Salau mine, which was one of the world’s highest grade tungsten mines when it operated from 1971 to 1986.

Salau was one of the highest-grade tungsten mines globally (1.5 – 2.5% WO3) and remains open at depth. The mine is recorded to have produced approximately 930,000 tonnes at 1.5% WO3 for around 11,500 tonnes of WO3 in concentrate prior to closure.
 

The Salau scheelite skarn tungsten deposit was discovered in the early 1960’s by the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (“BRGM”). Les Mines d’Anglade (“LMA”) operated the mine from April 1971 to November 1986 which is reported to have produced approximately 930,000 tonnes of ore at an average grade of 1.5% WO3 to yield approximately 11,500 tonnes of WO3 in concentrate.

Notwithstanding the existence of remaining resources, the discovery of promising mineralised zones elsewhere (Fonteilles et al., 1989) and the higher grade production from the latter years of production (up to 2.48% WO3) (Figure 2), the precipitous fall in the tungsten price caused by Chinese dumping in 1986 led to mine closure.

Project geology

Salau is a tungsten-bearing (primarily scheelite) skarn deposit developed at the contact between Devonian pelites and calcareous sediments of the Barregiennes Formation and a Hercynian-aged granodiorite stock (“Fourque”). The skarn formed within both the carbonate-bearing sediments and, to a much lesser degree, the host granodiorite. Mineralisation is directly related to the Fourque granodiorite which provided hot, tungsten- copper-gold bearing solutions that reacted with the host rocks to form the skarns and deposit metal-bearing minerals.

Salau consists of two known mineralised systems, the Bois d’Anglade embayment (Formation Nord, Gulfe, Formation Sud, and S.C. ore zones) and Veronique. Bois d’Anglade was discovered first and provided the bulk of the early production. Veronique, 300 metres to the west, was discovered in 1975 and provided higher grade tungsten production (average 1.9% WO3), including gold-rich material (not recovered in milling) towards the end of the mine life. Limited sampling of material from the lower section of the Veronique Southeast zone indicated the presence of high grade gold (Fonteilles et al, 1989).

The geometry of the orebodies at Salau is complex and appears controlled mainly by irregularities in the intrusive contact and by faulting. Two principal types of metalliferous skarns are developed:

  • Prograde skarns: initial metasomatism resulted in the formation of broad zones of prograde skarns containing modest tungsten values (0.2 to 0.5% WO3)
  • Retrograde skarns: later hydrothermal fluids overprinted the prograde skarns and deposited sulphide-rich material (mainly pyrrhotite) containing substantially higher values of tungsten, gold and copper. It is these sulphide-rich skarns which provided the bulk of the former production from the Salau mine.
EXPLORATION POTENTIAL

The Company’s exploration efforts will be focused on three areas:

  1. Veronique Zone down plunge below existing mine development
    Previous underground drilling by the former mine owners recorded a number of high grade tungsten-bearing skarn intersections below the 1,230 metre level access adit, which represents the down-plunge continuation of the Veronique ore system. The tungsten grade of this zone of mineralisation was reported as being similar to that derived from mining in the upper levels of Veronique. The system remains open at depth and is believed to contain substantial gold credits as stated in Fonteilles et al, 1989.
  2. Granodiorite contact around the Salau mine
    Potential also remains around the other previously mined areas (Veronique and Bois d’Anglade systems) where remnant zones of tungsten-bearing material appear present.
    In addition, discoveries documented by LMA at “Ouer d’Aigle” and “Christine”, plus a number of other scheelite skarn occurrences at the surface on the flanks of the Fourque granodiorite remain largely untested.
  3. Regional corridor of > 5km strike prospective for tungsten-copper-gold
    Additional tungsten-copper-gold prospects have been identified within the broader project area and surface exploration programs will be undertaken with a view to further assessing these prospects and generating new targets.
EXPLORATION PROGRAM

The initial work plan for the Couflens Project includes:

  • Digitisation and review of a substantial database of historic mine and exploration data
  • Mine area and old tailings area risk assessments
  • Initial access and assessment of existing mine development and stoping areas
  • Mapping and sampling of mineralisation exposed in previously developed mine areas
  • Generation of a 3D model of the geology, zones of mineralisation and principal controls on mineralisation
  • Underground drilling to confirm known zones of mineralisation and test for extensions of these zones
  • Estimation and reporting of a Mineral Resource in accordance with the JORC Code
  • Surface exploration programs to further assess identified prospects and generating new targets within the broader project area
  • A second phase of exploration may include the development of an underground incline to provide access below the existing mine workings and to allow more extensive drill testing of the down plunge continuation of the high grade Veronique system and parallel structural positions

Initial work will focus on defining sufficient high grade tungsten mineralisation to justify commencement of mine feasibility studies, as well as testing the gold potential within and adjacent to the Salau mine area.