Stibnite gets new US Dept of Defense backing


Richard Roberts

Defense department tipping more than $40m into project

Perpetua Resources Corp continues to gain US Department of Defense (DoD) funding support to demonstrate the value of the stibnite still in the ground at its proposed $1.26 billion gold project in Idaho, as it continues to wait for a final Environmental Protection Authority nod for the contentious redevelopment.

The Canadian and US-listed company has gained access to up to $15.5 million of DoD Ordnance Technology Consortium funding to go with an earlier $24.8m Defense Production Act grant.

Stibnite, also the name of the project near Cascade in the state’s west, produced antimony and tungsten for US military use in the 1940s and 50s before leaving a lasting negative environmental legacy from gold production up to its closure in 1996.

Perpetua, formerly Midas Gold, is proposing modern rehabilitation methods as part of a large-scale gold-silver-antimony development on private and public lands. It could become one of the few ‘new’ US circa-300,000 ounce-per-annum gold operations over the next decade, also producing about 115 million pounds of antimony under the 15-year mine plan outlined in Perpetua’s 2020 feasibility study.

It’s been in the crosshairs of local and state groups for and against the proposed redevelopment.

The company has sought to emphasise the lack of domestic antimony production at a time when China and Russia account for more than 70% of global mine supply. Antimony is used in weapons and munitions and also as anode material for lithium and sodium-ion batteries. Perpetua has a supply agreement with US battery maker Ambri, which got $144m of expansion funding in 2021 from a group that included Reliance Industries, Bill Gates and Perpetua majority shareholder Paulson & Co.

Perpetua claims its 148Mlb antimony reserve is the largest in the world not owned by Chinese or Russian interests. Moreover, it’s a demonstrated source of low-impurity “mil-spec” antimony trisulphide the US military needs for small arms, munitions and missiles.

The DoD Ordnance Technology Consortium is said to have more than 1000 industrial and academic participating groups. It is the “focal point for armaments system technology research and development” in the US.

Perpetua says it will obtain additional core samples from Stibnite, conduct more pilot plant work to produce mil-spec antimony trisulphide from the samples, design a full-scale process circuit and deliver a modular pilot plant for the DoD to use, with an estimated $15.5m spend over two years to be reimbursed on a cost-plus fixed fee basis.

Its earlier $24.8m DoD funding was to “advance construction readiness and permitting of the project”.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with the Department of Defense and are proud to help demonstrate a fully domestic supply chain solution for the ammunition our troops need to keep our nation and our allies safe,” Perpetua CEO Laurel Sayer said.

“Our vision remains unchanged, which is to redevelop a world class gold deposit, provide the country with the critical mineral antimony, and restore an abandoned brownfield site.”

Perpetua, which has a current market value around US$220m and had less than $20m in the bank at the end of March this year, hopes to receive a final record of decision from the EPA by March next year and make a construction decision by mid-2024.

All going to plan it is shooting for commercial production in 2027.

 

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