A technical consultant has recommended that Frontier Mining implement forced-aeration of the leach pads at its Benkala mine in order to optimize copper recoveries.

Adam Mooney, a consultant appointed by KazCopper, says that the ore at Benkala has high clay content, though this reduces the deeper it is mined. He says the issue of the permeability of the clay has been addressed, but until forced-aeration is successfully implemented, copper extraction from the new secondary sulphide heap at Pad 3 will be lower than a typical oxide heap.

He also says that to offset the impact of the harsh winter, the company will also have to operate further into the winter period, and to recommence operations earlier in the subsequent year. “Other improvement projects centre on the need for capital investment in order to remove existing bottlenecks in the production process.”

Frontier Mining is a copper exploration and development company with a focus on Kazakhstan. The company’s main activity is the Benkala Copper Project in northwest Kazakhstan, which forms part of the Urals copper gold ore belt. Frontier has a 100% interest in Benkala through its subsidiary KazCopper LLP.

Meantime, during July the company’s chief executive Yerlan Aliyev twice purchased company shares in a show of faith in the miner’s prospects. He spent more than £25,000 in July to increase his holding in Frontier to 0.09%.

The company has also reiterated its view that the Baitimir project in northeast Kazakhstan is viable after a scoping study. The document produced a post-tax value of between US$17 million and US$67 million using discount rates between 8% and 20%, respectively, and based on income from the recovery of copper, silver, gold, magnetite and molybdenum. A base case discount of 10% produced a net present value of US$53 million.

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