Apollo Minerals Limited (ASX:AON) has been given the green light to reinstall underground mine services at the historical, high-grade Salau tungsten mine within its Couflens project in southwest France.
This process includes ventilation infrastructure inside the mine with ventilation fans ordered and installation scheduled for late April.
The company expects that this work will take about one month to complete.
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Apollo’s executive director Hugo Schumann said: “We are pleased to be nearing completion of the program to reinstall mine services at Salau, most notably the installation of ventilation infrastructure after more than 30 years of the mine’s closure.
“The Salau mine has the potential to create significant jobs in the Ariege department and to provide a strategic supply of tungsten to French industrial companies who rely on China for most of its supply of this critical raw material.”
The mine had average operating grades of 1.5% WO3 during its 15 years of operation before closing in 1986 due to low tungsten prices, rather than depletion of the deposit.
As part of the program, the company will also repair mine supports, secure the working areas for exploration and complete the installation of communication and emergency facilities.
Schumann added: “In the coming days we will deliver the ventilation fan to site and commence with the works needed to bring the mine into a good working condition for the final phase of health and safety checks and our upcoming drilling and sampling programs.”
Apollo began a program to reinstall mine service last year following an initial phase of health and safety risk assessments, focused on geotechnical stability, air quality, ventilation tests and water quality.
Exceptional underground conditions
This work confirmed the exceptional underground conditions in the mine with the mine environment benefiting from natural ventilation flows from upper levels which are open.
The required ventilation improvements to support exploration activities are, therefore, minimal and comprise the installation of one fan on the 1430 level, two ventilation doors and two walls.
Apollo is utilising local contractors to carry out the work while goods and services are being sourced locally as part of the company’s commitment to invest in the region.
Drill program planned
The company has also shortlisted preferred drilling contractors for the initial underground drilling program at Salau.
This is designed to confirm known zones of tungsten mineralisation and test for extensions of these zones as a precursor to estimating a JORC-compliant mineral resource.
Couflens project comprises a 42 square kilometre licence area and is close to the border with Spain.
The company also has the Aurenere project across the border and which comprises an Investigation Permit under application.
Aurenere covers 27.5 square kilometres and is along strike from and adjacent to, the Couflens project.