An EW cell intake at Frontier’s Benkala project.
An EW cell intake at Frontier’s Benkala project.
CA frontier-leaching-pad
A leaching pad at the Benkala Copper Project.

FRONTIER Mining is seeking to partner with an experienced, well capitalized operator at its Benkala Copper Project in Kazakhstan. Revenues from current production cover the mine’s operating costs but do not cover interest, debt repayment obligations and other administrative costs.

The UK-listed company stated in its half yearly report that it has had approaches in recent years and has appointed advisers to engage with the most appropriate partner who can bring technical expertise and large-scale project management.

It also stated that in the first half of the year, production had exclusively been from ore stacked before the end of 2013. In the six months to the end of June, revenue was US$3.47 million compared to US$2.76 million in 2013.

During the half year 181,326 tonnes of ore were mined and 165,947 tonnes were stacked, while 511 tonnes of copper cathode were sold, with an average sales price of US$6784 per tonne. The average cost of production, excluding general and administrative costs, was US$4353 per tonne - more than 2013 mainly due to higher costs during the winter.

The company is pleased with a decision to hire a contractor to conduct stripping at a cost of 273 KZT (about US$1.50) per cubic metre. It says this has reduced operating costs further at Benkala.

The contract was awarded as a result of positive working experience with stripping and Frontier now has considerable confidence in this contractor being able to deliver on time and on budget.

The second agglomeration line has been commissioned and is now operational. Copper cathode production from Benkala is expected to be between 1500 and 2000 tonnes for the 12 months to December 31, 2014.

Frontier’s chairman and CEO Yerlan Aliyev said, “Over the course of the last 24 months of exploration and evaluation of data obtained on Benkala, South Benkala and other opportunities in very close proximity, it has been determined that the best course of action will be through joint partnership with an experienced well capitalized operator which can bring expertise to the project both in large-scale project management and complimentary technical capabilities on the ground.”

The company has also received approval from Ministry of Industry and New Technology of the Republic of Kazakhstan to proceed with the sale of Naimanjal licence area to Union Transnationale Miniere SA (UTM). Earlier Frontier agreed to sell its subsidiary FML Kazakhstan LLP, owner of the Naimanjal licence, to UTM for a cash consideration of US$30 million. The Naimanjal licence area is about 200km west of Semey in northeast Kazakhstan, with four commercial discoveries covering 529sqkm, including Baitemir, Yubileiny and Beschoku.

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