ASIAN Mineral Resources’ (AMR) continues to demonstrate that the Ban Phuc Nickel Project is a resilient operation even in a tough nickel price environment. This was borne out in the March quarter when Ban Phuc had strong production and solid sales while continued operational optimization resulted in a further increase in process plant recoveries to 87% for nickel and 94% for copper.
Asian Mineral Resources’ Ban Phuc Nickel Project is in northern Vietnam.
AMR mined 116,099 tonnes and produced 2111 tonnes of nickel metal, 1028 tonnes of copper metal and 69 tonnes of cobalt metal in concentrate in the quarter compared to 101,372 tonnes mined and production of 1307 tonnes of nickel and 729 tonnes of copper in the first quarter of 2014.
Four product shipments were completed in the quarter in line with expectations, for a total of 20,874 tonnes dry concentrate, up from 13,156 tonnes in the corresponding quarter of 2014. The average realized nickel price for the quarter was US$6.18/pound (US$13,625/tonne).
AMR continues its strong cost performance. Unit C1 (all in) operating cash costs, including royalties and export taxes, were reduced to US$4.63/pound. The company was in a strong cash and trade receivables position of US$9 million at March 31 and a further US$2 million of debt was re-paid to LienViet Post Bank, bringing the total outstanding debt balance to US$14 million. The declining trend in cash costs is expected to continue, as work on mine development progresses ahead of schedule.
The company has made significant progress with exploration which continues to add greater understanding to the structural controls on high-grade zones within the disseminated resource base. The combination of EM work and structural mapping by OREFIND consultants continues to develop AMR’s knowledge of the region and the structural controls on mineralization.
Construction of the embankment on the tailings dam remained on track at March 31 at 92.5% complete and 3.5% ahead of planned volumes. Upon completion, the dam will have capacity for the entire life of Ban Phuc MSV. A further expansion to increase capacity to accommodate an extended mine life forms part of the overall design and capacity within the tailings dam valley itself with potential to store an additional one million tonnes.
AMR’s CEO Evan Spencer says, “Robust plant performance and cost management, combined with a strong focus on delivering upon key business improvement initiatives, have continued to realize key cost savings. AMR has maintained its ongoing operational focus at Ban Phuc while at the same time maintaining momentum and progress with near-mine exploration.”