Metro Mining is on a fast track to bauxite production after announcing a 398% increase in its ore reserve at the Bauxite Hills Project in Far North Queensland. The reserve has increased from 12.1 million tonnes to 48.2 million tonnes, which is enough material to support for a 27 year mine life.

Metro also says that the project could be in construction mode in the second quarter of 2016 and producing by the fourth quarter of 2016. This would be at an annual rate of up to 2 million tonnes of direct shipping ore (DSO).

The Bauxite Hills Project is 95km north of Weipa on Cape York Peninsula and 5km southeast of the port at Skardon River. The project has a high grade total alumina of 50.2% and reactive silica of 6.3%, which is typical of Western Cape York bauxite deposits destined for export.

An update of the geological model resulted in the resource upgrade. Based on this, the resource at Bauxite Hills looks suitable for DSO that is planned to be transhipped via the Skardon River.

Mining will be a very simple quarrying operation, with minimal vegetation clearance and overburden of around 0.5 metres.

The ore will be hauled and trucked 5-10 kilometres to a stockpile & barge loading area. Then the ore will be barged 10km down the Skardon River ready to be transhipped to a bulk carrier for export.

The location of the project at Cape York is ideal as it is located close to international shipping routes with low relative freight costs to China. Cape York’s high quality export grade bauxite with high alumina content and its characteristics are well known to Chinese and other international alumina refineries.

Metro recently appointed the former Traxys China chairman and Comalco executive Norman Ting to assist with marketing of the project to alumina refineries. He has more than 40 years of experience and contacts in Asia trading bauxite to fall back on.

Bauxite is projected to be supply challenged within two years given the ban by Indonesia on export of unprocessed minerals which caught bauxite in its net.

Metro says the appointment provides a vast opportunity for Bauxite Hills, with China’s Xinfa Group sitting on a 7.8% shareholding and also assisting in finding off takers for bauxite to move the advanced project into production.