Continued operational optimization by Asian Mineral Resources (AMR) at the Ban Phuc Nickel Project in northern Vietnam has resulted in a further increase in process plant nickel recoveries to 86.8%, above the design target of 85%.
During the June quarter the company produced 2033 tonnes of nickel metal, 972 tonnes of copper metal and 66 tonnes of cobalt metal in concentrate at Ban Phuc from 111,218 tonnes of ore mined. Nickel production was up by 16% on the corresponding period of 2014 with copper production up by 14% and ore mined up by 11% with production being above guidance for the period.
There were four product shipments completed in the quarter for a total of 21,489 tonnes of dry concentrate. This was in line with company expectations and was 32% higher than in quarter two of 2014.
The company continues to focus on cost reductions with C1 operating cash costs, including royalties and export taxes, of US$4.55/pound nickel equivalent, which was below guidance.
AMR’s CEO Evan Spencer says, “AMR’s strong operational performance and cash flow generation have underpinned the business during this low nickel pricing environment. During the quarter, we repaid a further US$2 million in debt and completed all scheduled capital works, which will facilitate further cost reductions during the second half of the year.
“With this low cost, high-grade production firmly established, we are now able to focus on our numerous near-mine, high-grade exploration targets.
Drilling on one of the most prospective targets has commenced and the team is excited to begin leveraging the geological potential of the region.”
Underground diamond drilling is focused on a high-priority, high-grade target down dip of the existing MSV ore body. This follows work completed in the first quarter to identify the structural controls on mineralization within the mine corridor and wider region.
The targeting of the off-set Ban Phuc Deeps target forms the first program of exploration work following company's decision to focus on near-mine exploration targets. Further analysis and drill targeting is under way with both Kingsnake and Ban Phuc East ranking as the next two high priority targets. Management is seeking board approval to commence drilling programs on these two prospects in the current quarter.
The final stage lift for the current Life of Mine tailings dam was completed in the June quarter. Combined with the completion of all mine capital development, this marks the completion of all capital projects for 2015.