THE Runruno gold operation of Metals Exploration plc continues to experience difficulties in the BIOX circuit ramp-up. Operationally all other aspects of the project continue to strengthen with the mining and non-BIOX aspects operating at or around design levels.

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A section of the processing facilities at Runruno Gold Project.

On September 19, Metals Ex issued a statement that said, “After encouraging results when the BIOX circuit ramped-up strongly to around 50% throughput it has again passivated with currently limited material being processed through the BIOX circuit.”

It said the setback had been disappointing following the relatively good progress made during August. It is the latest in a series of delays and setbacks that has plagued the project.

Metals Ex said, “Initial test work points towards the presence of algae in the return process water which has interfered with the performance of BIOX bacteria, at higher throughput levels.

“Engineering solutions have been identified to manage the presence of the algae and are being implemented, while further investigations and test work are being undertaken as a basis to continuously mitigate the impacts of algae in the process.”

The AIM-quoted company said ramp-up of the BIOX circuit would commence once the engineering solutions had been implemented, after which there would be a period of time required for the bacteria to recover sufficiently to allow feeding to recommence.

Metals Ex is being assisted by Biomin, the intellectual property owners of the BIOX process, who have a presence throughout diagnostic and remediation works, and during early feeding.

Meantime, the project has obtained a third tree cutting permit and works have commenced preparing the access to the overflow waste dump site. All required blasting permits have also been obtained, which provides the project with the flexibility to schedule blasting as required.

The company has recently finalised a US$21 million mezzanine debt facility with its two major shareholders Runruno Holdings Ltd and MTL (Luxembourg) Sarl. The documentation was completed on September 29 and funds were drawn down to repay two short term loans received from the shareholders totaling $12 million. The balance was utilised to facilitate a capital and interest payment to senior lenders.

The two shareholders will participate throughout the facility on a pro-rata basis to their current shareholding.

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