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CuFe Limited: Multi-Commodity Assets in Western Australia and Northern Territory

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Overview

CuFe Limited (ASX:CUF) is a multi-commodity exploration and development company with interest in eight projects situated throughout mature mining jurisdictions in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The company’s value proposition is predicated on its high-grade premium product iron ore projects as well as its exposure to copper, lithium and niobium. Its exploration portfolio includes mature copper targets at Tennant Creek, drill-ready lithium targets at North Dam, and greenfield exploration ground in close proximity to WA1’s recent niobium discovery.

Tennant Creek hosts a mineral resource estimate of 7.3 million tons (Mt) at 1.7 percent copper and 0.6 grams per ton (g/t) gold for 127 kt copper and 145 koz gold. CuFe currently owns a 55 percent interest over 240 kilometres of the highly-prospective tenure, situated in the Northern Territory. CuFe’s near-term plan for the mine, based on detailed mine planning, involves a staged cutback of the Orlando open pit to gain access to an ore supply for fast start options.

The JWD iron ore operation is an ultra-flexible high-grade, low-impurity iron ore operation optimised for efficiency, the mine benefits from a low capex, with the capacity to export 60 kt of lump and 15 kt of fines per month at current production rate. CuFe owns 100 percent interest in this operation.

CuFe Limited's Yarram project is near the Darwin port

In addition to taking advantage of the growing market for strategic metals, CuFe also has exposure to a near-term iron ore price upside thanks to the high-grade JWD iron ore mine. It plans to leverage the mine to take advantage of elevated iron ore price cycles with the ability to cost-effectively suspend production as the market dictates. CuFe is also evaluating the Yarram project, as its close proximity to Darwin port gives it the potential for low opex.

Lastly, CuFe has a low-risk 2 percent NSR gold royalty over the Northern Star Crossroads project, where mining is expected to commence in 2024.

CuFe is led by a highly experienced management team adept at identifying opportunities, making discoveries, evaluating and developing projects and maintaining operations. The team is led by executive director Mark Hancock, who has 25 years experience in resource projects across a variety of commodities in senior finance, commercial and marketing roles.

Company Highlights

  • CuFe Limited is an ASX-listed iron, copper, lithium and niobium exploration and development company with a multi-commodity portfolio of assets.
  • The company’s assets are situated in mature mining regions in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, with access to extensive pre-existing infrastructure.
  • CuFe’s projects are highly prospective in copper (Tennant Creek, Bryah Basin), lithium (North Dam, Tambourah) and niobium (West Arunta).
  • CuFe has 100 percent interest in the iron ore mining rights at the operating Wiluna West JWD mine, known to contain high-grade iron ore product.
  • Additionally, the company has a 50 percent interest in the Yarram project, an advanced iron ore development project with potential for low-cost production.
  • CuFe also has a 2 percent net smelter royalty over the Crossroads gold project in Kalgoorlie.
  • The company is led by a proven and experienced in-house team with expertise in identification, discovery, evaluation, deployment and operations.

Key Projects

Copper

CuFe Limited's Tennan Creek and Bryah projects map

Tennant Creek

The Tennant Creek project is located in the highly prospective Gecko-Goanna copper-gold corridor of the Northern Territory. A mature project comprising three high-grade copper and gold mineral resources, it contains a combined JORC 2012 mineral resource of 7.3 at 1.7 percent copper and 0.6 g/t gold for 127 kt copper and 145 koz gold. Highly-prospective for further resource growth from resource extensions and new discoveries, Tennant Creek is also located in close proximity to grid power, a gas pipeline, the Stuart highway and the rail line to Darwin.

The area where Tennant Creek is hosted is a re-emerging mineral field with recent neighbouring exploration success from companies such as Emmerson Resources (ASX:ERM) and Tennant Minerals (ASX:TMS). Near-mine targets include the potential to extend resources and open enrichment within the Orlando and Gecko structural corridors.

The current focus for Tennant Creek is to identify and drill high-potential exploration targets with a view to growing the resource base while considering a staged cutback of the existing Orlando open pit to gain access to an ore supply for a fast start option.

Bryah Basin JV projects

Through wholly owned subsidiary Jackson Minerals, CuFe has a 20 percent interest in roughly 804 square kilometres of highly-prospective tenements proximal to the former Sandfire Resources’ (ASX:SFR) Doolgunna project and Degrussa copper gold mine, as well as several other prominent gold and copper prospects. Collectively known as the Bryah Basin JV projects, the tenements are currently subject to joint ventures and farm-ins with several companies. The most prominent of these is the Morck Well project, which is under an exploration licence with Auris Minerals (ASX:AUR) alongside the Forrest project.

The Morck Well project tenements cover an area of 600 square kilometres in the highly-prospective region, which has been recognized to have high iron ore potential.

Lithium

CuFe Limited's Tambourah Lithium Tenure and North Dam Project

North Dam

The North Dam project is a highly prospective lithium tenure situated in the emerging Yilgarn Lithium Belt. Located roughly 50 kilometres south-southeast of the township of Coolgardie, the project is contained within the same lithium belt that contains known spodumene deposits such as Mt Marion, Pioneer Dome, Bald Hill, Manna and Buldania. There have also been several well-known junior exploration successes immediately adjacent to the tenement, including Kali Metals (ASX:KM1), Marquee Resources (ASX:MQR) and Maximum Resources.

To date, work on the project has included defining prospective pegmatites through rock chip sampling, soil sampling and geological mapping. Anomalous lithium and key pathfinder elements have also defined a prospective corridor of roughly 3.5 kilometres in strike length. Columbite and tantalite rock chips selected from a stream bed also contain up to 44 percent niobium and 14.53 percent tantalum.

CuFe has also completed a recent heritage survey and, pending results and conditions, plans to commence a maiden drill program.

Tambourah

The 100 percent owned Tambourah Tenure is a prospective lithium tenure with known gold occurrences. Located roughly 90 kilometres south of the Pilgangoora and Wodgina lithium complexes, and 175 kilometres south of Port Hedland, the project was historically explored for gold and contains known gold occurrences within alluvial material and reef systems. Current work on the project to date has involved geological mapping and rock chip sampling.

Niobium

CuFe Limited's West Arunta project

West Arunta

The fully owned West Arunta consists of three tenements located in the highly-prospective region of the same name. The tenure is known to be prospective for carbonatite-hosted niobium and rare earth element mineralization. Spanning roughly 220 square kilometres, it surrounds Lycaon Resources’ (ASX:LYN) Stansmore project and is located 70 kilometres north of several prominent recent discoveries.

CuFe has not yet finalised native title arrangements to commence work in the ground so in the meantime it engaged Southern Geoscience Consulting to undertake a geophysical review of publicly available airborne magnetic data for the tenements including re-processing of said data and 3D unconstrained inversion modeling. Analysis of the total magnetic imagery revealed three anomalous areas across the package, resulting in nine target anomalies for further investigation and exploration.

Iron

CuFe Limited's Yarram Iron Ore project and JWD project

JWD iron ore mine

The JWD iron ore operation is an optimised and flexible high-grade, low impurity iron ore operation over the Wiluna West JWD deposit. CuFe has 100 percent interest in the iron ore mining rights agreement for the project, which was started for less than $5 million and produces a high-grade, low-impurity lump iron ore for direct shipping.

At its current production rate, the mine has capacity for 60 kt of lump and 15 kt of fines per month. Mining and crushing is conducted by contractors, with the finished product trucked 800 kilometres to the Geraldton port for export in vessels of circa 6Ma0 kt. The mine also benefits from flexible operating contracts and price hedging, allowing CuFe to more readily react to iron ore price volatility.

Although no JORC reserve has been reported, a JORC resource dated June 30, 2023 reveals an estimate of 9.6 Mt at 63.7 percent iron using a 55 percent iron cut-off.

Yarram

The Yarram iron ore project is a mature development opportunity with the potential for low-cost production. CuFe currently holds a 50 percent interest in the project, which includes operatorship. Partially located on an existing mining lease on freehold land, Yarram has a high-grade DSO resource of 5.6 MT at +60 percent iron as well as a low-grade component of 7.1 Mt with the potential for beneficiation.

Situated 110 kilometres from Darwin Port and adjacent to underutilised mining infrastructure, Yarram also features favourable ore body geometry, with existing infrastructure and services contributing to its low capex and opex.

An initial diamond drilling program provided HG core from two deposits within the project. Physical and thermal metallurgical testing confirms the generation of a lump product with roughly 41 percent yield, elevated gangue levels in the very fine fractions and acceptable thermal and materials handling properties, making it suitable as a blast furnace lump burden feed.

CuFe has also undertaken geotechnical testwork on the diamond drill core to provide parameters for pit optimizations and designs. Final pit shells and a high-level mine schedule have been developed for use in regulatory approvals.

Gold Royalty

Crossroad gold project

Through fully owned subsidiary Jackson Minerals, CuFe holds a 2 percent net smelter royalty over M24/462, which contains Northern Star’s (ASX:NST) Crossroads gold project. This project is the subject of a recently approved mining proposal envisaging the mining of 2.67 Mt of gold-bearing ore. The project is expected to commence sometime in 2024 and run for a 36-month period, with the majority of ore mined in the second and third years after pre-stripping.

This project represents a potential near-term revenue source for CuFe with no associated costs.

Management Team

Tony Sage — Executive Chairman (BCom, FCPA, CA, FTIA )

Tony Sage is an entrepreneur with over 36 years of experience in corporate advisory services, funds management and capital raising, predominantly within the resource sector. He is based in Western Australia and has continued to be involved in managing and financing listed mining and exploration companies with a diverse commodity base.

Sage has developed global operational experience within Europe, North and South America, Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Middle East. He is currently executive chairman of ASX-listed Cyclone Metals Limited (ASX:CLE) and European Lithium (ASX:EUR).

Mark Hancock — Executive Director

Mark Hancock has over 30 years’ experience in key financial, commercial and marketing roles across a variety of industries with a strong focus on natural resources. During his 13 years at Atlas Iron Ltd, Hancock served in numerous roles including CCO, CFO, Executive Director and Company Secretary. He has also served as a director on a number of ASX listed entities and is currently a director of Centaurus Metals Ltd and Strandline Resources Ltd.

Hancock holds a Bachelor of Business (B.Bus) degree, is a Chartered Accountant (CA) and is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia (F FIN).

Nicholas Sage — Non-executive Director

Nicholas Sage is an experienced marketing and communications professional with in excess of 25 years in various management and consulting roles. Sage is based in Western Australia and currently consults to various companies and has held various management roles within Tourism Western Australia. He also runs his own management consulting business.

Scott Meacock — Non-executive Director

Scott Meacock has a wealth of experience as external counsel acting in, and advising on, complex corporate and commercial law transactions and disputes for clients in a wide range of industry sectors including natural resources and financial services.

Meacock currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel of the Gold Valley Group. He holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree and a Bachelor of Commerce (BComm) degree from the University of Western Australia.

Matthew Ramsden – GM Development

Matthew Ramsden is an experienced geologist and project developer commencing his career in Tasmania before stints in the Pilbara with Rio Tinto and Atlas Iron, where he played a key role in the development and ramp-up of six iron ore mines.

He joined CuFe in 2021 to commence the JWD operations and now has oversight over the company’s exploration and development projects.

Ramsden is a member of the Australasian Institute of Geoscientists.

Siobhán Sweeney — Geology Manager

Siobhán Sweeney brings over 13 years’ geology experience to the CuFe team, from greenfield’s exploration to resource development with a strong focus on target generation and development of iron ore projects. During her 8 years at Atlas Iron Ltd, Sweeney was instrumental in developing critical iron ore projects in the Pilbara such as Miralga Creek and Corunna Downs. Her background in managing complex and challenging exploration programs has been key to delivering successful projects.

Since joining Cufe in July 2021, Sweeney has been tasked with developing and implementing mine geology processes during the start-up phase of the JWD mine. Most recently she has delivered a successful exploration drill campaign to further define the Yarram iron ore deposit.

Sweeney is a member of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists and holds a Bachelor of Science degree (hons) in geology from the National University of Ireland Galway.

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