Vital Metals’ Aue Exploration Permit is prospective for underground tungsten, tin, cobalt, silver, zinc, indium, gold and uranium mineralisation. It is located in the western Erzgebirge region which is in the heart of one of Europe’s most famous mining regions and is surrounded by several world-class mineral fields within a radius of less than 20km.
This permit is a very attractive addition to Vital’s exploration portfolio:
- Reduced exploration risk – tungsten mineralisation has been sampled and mapped from underground adits and drill core;
- Preliminary metallurgical testwork showed WO3 recoveries of around 85% for concentrates containing around 60% WO3;
- Extensive geological data package;
- Supportive Government for strategic metals mining projects.
The permit is located in the southwestern part of the Federal State of Saxony within the western Erzgebirge – which literally translates into “Ore Mountains”. This area is one of the most renowned historical metal mining districts in Germany with a 800 year long history of silver, tin, cobalt, uranium and base metal exploitation.
Cobalt was historically produced from biconi-(Ag-U) veins hosting cobalt and nickel arsenides (skutterudite, rammelsbergite) and native bismuth at Schneeberg, which is located northwest of the Aue permit. Schneeberg produced 12,000 tonnes of Co+Ni from mainly hand-picked ore from the 16th Century to the cease of production in about 1937. The southeast corner of the Aue permit hosted small-scale mining on sulphide lenses of the type mined at Schneeberg during this period.
The “Aue” permit is situated within one of the most prospective areas of the Erzgebirge, in between the famous Schneeberg-Schlema Ag-U district to the north, the Ehrenfriedersdorf-Geyer Sn-W district to the east and the Breitenbrunn-Pöhla Sn-W-base metal district to the south.
The permit is located right within the major Gera-Jáchymov fault zone, the controlling structure for the major mineral deposits in the western Erzgebirge. Rock units comprise Palaeozoic to Neoproterozoic metamorphosed sedimentary and igneous rocks, intruded by Carboniferous (Variscan) granitoids. The Jáchymov Group of sediments in the south of the area is known for skarn mineralisation containing tungsten, tin, zinc, indium and iron.
Vitals main focus will be the Bernsbach-NW area in the northeast of the permit area. The Bernsbach-NW area is a vein-swarm tungsten target with quartz-wolframite veins. The veins were discovered in the late 1940’s during uranium exploration work. Surface and shallow underground exploration carried out by a branch of the East German Geological Survey for tungsten took place during the 1950’s and early 1960’s (named Aue-Bärengrund and Aue-Lauter at this stage). Underground channel samples yielded up to 21% WO3 across veins usually around 1m wide. Preliminary metallurgical testwork carried out at this stage indicated recoveries of 80% for concentrates containing 60% WO3.
Exploration focus in the area changed again to uranium from the mid-1960s to the 1980’s (carried out by the Soviet-German SDAG Wismut), but wide spaced diamond drilling in the area repeatedly intersected tungsten mineralisation at depth. Resource potential estimates (“prognostic resources”)1 range from 2,500t WO3 made in the early years of exploration over 20,000t WO3 in 1978 to 68,000t WO3 last published in 2008.
The permit area holds further tin, tungsten and base metal prospects, which have been partially drill tested by the SDAG Wismut. Vital will progressively expand work to these prospect areas and will also include regional exploration into it’s work program, as the area holds excellent potential for new discoveries.
1 Prognostic resources are a non-JORC compliant classification used in the former GDR. They are based on wide spaced drilling, underground exploration and geological assumptions. Further exploration work including drilling is needed to define a JORC-compliant resource.