Metals Exploration continues to make slow progress at its Runruno Gold Project in the Philippines. The project remains in the ‘test running and debugging’ phase, having achieved this status midway through 2016.

This status, which is part of its Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement, permits the project to fully commission all of its operations including the mine, processing plant and residual storage impoundment (RSI), and to debug and ramp-up the operation towards design parameters.

After achieving its first gold sale in November 2016, the project has been able to routinely obtain the permits required to export for sale the doré bullion produced during this phase of the operations.

Since commencing ore commissioning 16,552 troy ounces contained in gold doré bullion has been produced of which 8366 ounces were produced during the March quarter of 2017. Three doré bullion shipments containing 7557 ounces were completed in the three months, generating US$9.2 million in gross revenue.

Metals Ex says it has been an extremely challenging time for the whole of the Philippine mining industry, while Runruno has also been affected by technical issues, external factors and cash flow constraints.

The Philippines government in particular has tightened up on licences for mines in the country. Metals Ex said it had not received any suspension or closure order though it said a lack of a tree cutting permit had held back the ramp-up.

The company says the project is operating soundly as it continues ramp-up to design throughput and gold production with various unit-operations having achieved design throughput while others continue to ramp-up.

Recoveries of only 56% were achieved in the quarter, which was blamed on greater use of oxide ore in the BIOX process rather than the sulphide ore it is designed for. Ramp-up will continue into the June quarter.

Metals Ex says sulphide ore is now being processed again and the plant’s performance is improving.

“A waiver has been provided by the lenders deferring the March 2017 capital payment and the project experiences cash constraints but monitors working capital very closely.”

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