Amur Minerals (AMC), a nickel-copper sulphide mineral exploration and resource development company focused on the far east of Russia, has provided details on its 2018 work program for defining and attaining project development criteria at its Kun-Manie project.
A new Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) is in progress: Completion of an update to the February 2017 MRE including all 2017 drill results which have confirmed the neighbouring deposits of Ikenskoe / Sobolevsky (IKEN) and Kubuk (KUB) form one much larger deposit (IKEN/KUB). The new MRE will cover a total mineralised strike length of some 4 km, an increase of more than 2.25 km from that defined in the February 2017 MRE.
The updated open pit and underground mine designs at IKEN/KUB require completion of the MRE. Upon completion of the MRE, an evaluation will be completed to determine the preferred mining approach for extraction of the ores from the new larger mineralised block of IKEN/KUB. Initially, open pit optimisation designs will be completed to determine the open pit economic potential of mining the IKEN/KUB. Subsequently, an economic trade off study will be completed to identify which portions of the orebody are best suited for underground mining using Long Hole Open Stoping (LHOS).
Another task is to compile an optimised LOM production schedule utilising the new MRE including the blending of ores from all orebodies and by differing mine extraction methods. Selection of production sources and the related schedule for mining will be optimised based on a combination of Earnings Before Income Tax, Depreciation, and Amortisation (EBITDA) and NPV.
The current process flowsheet is based on the generation of a single simple concentrate containing all metals including nickel, copper, cobalt, platinum, palladium, gold and silver. Additional test work on a 0.5 t representative LOM sample is to be conducted to determine the potential of generating two separate concentrates, one for copper and one nickel. Successful generation of a copper concentrate line will enhance project revenues by attaining a higher payable value for the total recovered copper than if a single simple concentrate is generated. The results of the test work will be utilised to establish the flowsheet defining the final configuration of the large scale LOM metallurgical test necessary to establish plant design parameters and for derivation of operating and capital cost estimates.
Following the assessment of the development of a copper concentrate, additional test work will be undertaken related to the company generating battery ready or near battery ready product.
Based on the existing company generated road design including necessary stream and river crossing structures (culverts and bridges), a First Pass Design (1st PD) has allowed AMC to identify specific rights of way within which to construct the 360 km long access road. This 1st PD route will be reviewed by a Certified Road Design and Construction group to confirm and “adjust” as necessary (accounting for geological hazards) creating a Second Pass Design (2nd PD). A final field inspection of the 2nd PD route will be completed allowing for final design specifications to be established for the road and documented in accordance with Russian regulatory standards. As part of the process, road industry design experts will provide a final approval allowing for construction to begin.
Implement an independent gap analysis of the company compiled PFS including confirmation of the projected economic potential of Kun-Manie considering various production scenarios including a LOM off take contract smelting agreement, the company generating a Low Grade Matte (LGM) using an owner operated furnace, the potential generation of final saleable product obtained from a company captive refinery / combination thereof and the scenario of producing product suited for the EV market.
Environmental Assessment Work: Continue the environmental study work beyond the existing water quality and preliminary flora and fauna studies that have been completed to date. This environmental study will cover a 12 month consecutive period to define base line parameters throughout a full calendar year. This will be resumed during this field season to ensure timely completion for the DFS.
This year’s activities reflect a substantial shift from the previous year’s exploration efforts to that of project development considerations. Limited drilling of approximately 15,000 m is planned and is focused on the development of final production related information. This will include resource conversion of Inferred high grade resource to that of Indicated for inclusion in the early stage of mine production, metallurgical sample collection for evaluation of necessary process modifications to evaluate the potential to generate battery ready product, and detailed infill drilling of limited areas allowing for mine plan approval to be granted by the Russian Federation agencies.
In addition to the field program, extensive engineering works are also planned.
This 2018 program has been substantially upgraded to assess the potential to generate product that would be suitable for battery use. With the potential disruption to the nickel and cobalt markets related to Electronic Vehicles (EVs), new additional options are available to the company further increasing the project viability, which is important with regard to project funding. This also expands the field of strategic partners for consideration.
Robin Young, CEO of Amur Minerals, commented: “Over the course of the last year and a half, analyses and projections of the Electronic Vehicle market are indicating there is the potential of a disruption in the market with regard to the metals employed in the fabrication of the batteries as is already noted with regard to cobalt. Presently, projections to source sufficient nickel product to meet the 4% annual growth from this sector alone could increase the current 2 Mtg/y nickel consumption demand by as much as 1 Mt/y by 2025.
“Given the potential for such growth, we are actively reviewing all of our metallurgical test work with regard to nickel and cobalt and have generated a work programme to determine the optimal operational setup allowing the company to fully participate in the EV market. With potential modification to our downstream concentrate treatment plans, the ability to generate near battery ready or battery ready product could further enhance the economic potential of Kun-Manie.”