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Apollo Minerals sets out to restart the world’s highest grade tungsten mine

Apollo is looking to capitalise on a resurgent tungsten price
Tungsten in periodic table
Grades at Couflens have been known to run as high as 2.5% tungsten trioxide

“We have the potential to reopen the world’s highest grade tungsten mine,” says Hugo Schumann of Apollo Minerals Limited (ASX:AON).

Schumann was appointed as an Executive Director in May, following stints at Berkeley Energia (LON:BKY) and Prairie Mining (ASX:PDZ). Both have made a considerable impact on their respective markets, and Schumann was an integral part of that, playing a significant role in financing and investor relations.

WATCH: Apollo Minerals to expand team ahead of upcoming drill programmes

With Apollo though, he’s moving more to centre stage as the company begins to get down to serious work on its French and Spanish tungsten and gold assets.

As Executive Director, Schumann plays a leadership role in the company, and the move represents something of a step up for him among the group of entrepreneurs with whom he customarily works.

The chairman of Apollo, Ian Middlemas, has had several major successes in the uranium and gold space, as has senior non-executive director Robert Behets. Middlemas has had involvement both with Berkeley and with Prairie Mining and has clearly built up a healthy enough respect for Schumann to let him run with Apollo.

But Schumann has other motivations too. He holds a significant shareholding in Apollo himself, some 5.2 million shares, and he is clearly eager to make a success of it.

In April, the company announced a A$6mln capital raise which included some of the world’s largest mining funds, most notably BlackRock and Old Mutual taking significant interests. The funding is expected to cover the company’s drilling and feasibility work for the next 12-18 months.

A move to a European listing is being investigated to increase the company’s exposure to international capital, but most of the focus now will be on working up the Couflens tungsten and gold asset, as well as the new Aurenere project which borders it on the other side of the Spanish frontier.

“The Couflens asset is one of the most exciting projects we’ve seen in our group for a long time,” says Schumann.

“We have here the potential to re-open the world’s highest-grade tungsten mine.”

READ: Apollo Minerals boasts of “exceptionally busy” quarter

And he’s not kidding about the grades. Whereas a general global average for a tungsten mine might run at about 0.3%WO3, grades at Couflens run at an average of 1.5% and were as high as 2.5% WO3 when the mine closed around 40 years ago.

What’s more, there’s also gold potential on the property, with mineralisation from the gold coming into the system as part of a different geological event to that which brought in the tungsten.

To get an idea of how rich this mine might be, Schumann points out that even in the old, historic tailings, grades collected from rock samples were running at 0.5% WO3 and up to 8 grams per tonne gold.

But France hasn’t exactly been a welcome destination for mining over the past few decades, and in spite of this potential, not much forward motion has been evident until now.

But President Emmanuel Macron is keen to get mining in France kick-started again, and Couflens fits in nicely.

The company has already digitised data from over 650 historic drillholes in order to estimate a tungsten resource, and is now beginning to get the underground area itself back into some sort of working order, with the ongoing restoration of power, ventilation and cabliong.

Drilling is planned in due course, and an application to undertake an airborne geophysics survey has been made to the French authorities. 

In the meantime, results from sampling both from Couflens and from Aurenere continue to highlight the prospectivity of the projects.

Results from the 2017 surface exploration programme at Couflens showed grades as high as 8.25% WO3, with associated gold at 24 grams per tonne, while recent samples at Aurenere showed grades as high as 33.9 grams gold and 2.03 WO3. The copmany has now applied for a drilling permit at Aurenere. 

Watch this space for further updates.

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