North Macedonia, Central Asia Metals has provided a Q4 and full year 2022 operations update

Central Asia Metals has provided a Q4 and full year 2022 operations update for the Kounrad dump leach, solvent extraction and SX-EW copper recovery plant in Kazakhstan and the Sasa zinc-lead mine in North Macedonia.In 2022 summary there were zero lost time injuries (LTIs) at Kounrad and two LTIs at Sasa. There was record copper production at Kounrad, above guidance range at 14,254 t of copper produced. Zinc and lead production at Sasa was within guidance range with zinc in concentrate production of 21,473 t and lead in concentrate production of 27,354 t. For 2023 production guidance for Kounrad is 13,000 to 14,000 t. At Sasa, zinc in concentrate is expected to be 19,000 to 21,000 t and lead in concentrate, 27,000 to 29,000 t.

Nigel Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “I am delighted to report strong production from both of our operations during 2022. At Kounrad, we had a record year and exceeded our guidance, producing over 14,000 t of copper cathode into a broadly strong pricing environment. At Sasa, I am proud of our team’s hard work and efforts throughout the year to ensure that we met our guidance and began progressing the Cut and Fill Project. Two LTIs at Sasa were disappointing, and we have adapted training to mitigate against further similar incidents.”

He continued: “As part of the Cut and Fill Project, construction of the paste backfill plant has begun with good progress and therefore remains on schedule for H1 2023. Additionally, work on the Central Decline continues to progress towards the Svinja Reka ore body, with 1,051 m being developed during the year bringing the total advanced to 1,554 m. At Kounrad, earthworks undertaken by our own team have begun for the construction of the Solar Power Project, which is on schedule for completion during H2 2023. We enter 2023 in a debt-free position and look forward to delivering another year of strong base metal production and beginning the transition to the cut and fill mining method at Sasa. Our 2022 annual results are scheduled to be released on 29 March 2023, when our final dividend for 2022 will also be announced.”In more detail, Kounrad delivered Q4 2022 copper production of 3,569 t, bringing output for 2022 to 14,254 t, a production record for CAML.Copper sales during Q4 2022 were 3,843 t, bringing the total for 2022 to 14,342 t. Earthworks for the Solar Power Project began in Q4 2022 at a 10 ha site close to the SX-EW plant. Project construction being undertaken by Kounrad’s in-house engineering team is expected to be complete in the latter part of H2 2023.At Sasa in Q4 2022, mined and processed ore were 203,483 t and 202,175 t respectively, bringing the total for 2022 to 806,069 t of ore mined and 806,653 t of ore processed. The average head grades for the quarter were 3.11% zinc and 3.54% lead, and for the year were 3.15% and 3.63% respectively. The average 2022 metallurgical recoveries were 84.6% for zinc and 93.4% for lead. Sasa produces a zinc concentrate and a separate lead concentrate. In Q4 2022, 10,500 t of concentrate containing 50.1% zinc and 9,268 tonnes of concentrate containing 71.5% lead were produced. Total production for 2022 was 42,824 t of zinc concentrate at an average grade of 50.1% and 38,439 t of lead concentrate at an average grade of 71.2%.

Sasa typically receives from smelters approximately 84% of the value of its zinc in concentrate and approximately 95% of the value of its lead in concentrate. Accordingly, Q4 2022 payable production of zinc was 4,423 t and of lead was 6,297 t, bringing total 2022 payable production to 18,048 t of zinc and 25,987 t of lead. Payable base metal in concentrate sales from Sasa in Q4 2022 were 4,323 t of zinc and 6,219 t of lead and for 2022 were 17,862 t of zinc and 25,689 t of lead.

The Sasa Cut and Fill Project, which comprises the construction of a paste backfill plant and associated reticulation, a dry stack tailings plant and associated landform, and development of a new decline, will ensure maximum extraction of Sasa’s resources, in the safest way, with minimal water usage and improved tailings management. At Sasa, 2023 will be a year of transition from the current sub-level caving mining method to cut and fill stoping. Therefore, CAML maintains its ore mined guidance year on year of 790,000 to 810,000 t.

Given that a major component of the backfill material will be tailings generated from the Sasa processing plant, it is estimated that over 40% of Svinja Reka’s life of mine tailings will be stored underground. Approximately 30% of tailings will be stored in the current TSF4, and the remainder are expected to be filter pressed to remove much of the moisture and then stacked on a dry stack tailings landform. This is seen as a more environmentally attractive waste storage approach to a traditional wet tailings storage facility. This, in combination with other site initiatives, has enabled CAML to set a target of a 75% reduction in Sasa’s fresh water abstraction by the end of 2026.Development of the Central Decline continues to progress well, with 1,051 metres developed during 2022, and 1,554 metres in total and is on schedule to complete phase 1 to connect surface with the 910 production level by the end of H1 2023. Construction of the Paste Backfill Plant on surface and the associated underground infrastructure remains on schedule to be completed in H1 2023. Additionally, orders have been placed for key items required for the Dry Stack Tailings plant, which will be constructed during H2 2023.Given the ongoing Sasa Cut and Fill Project, CAML expects group 2023 capital expenditure of between $28 million and $30 million, of which between $11 million and $13 million is expected to be committed to sustaining capex. The project capital expenditure also includes construction of the Kounrad Solar Power Project which is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, IM-Mining writes.

Spain, Denarius will initially have an option to subscribe for a 51% stake in EMI

Canadian firm Denarius Metals has signed an option agreement to acquire up to 80% in EuropaMetals’ Spanish subsidiary, Europa Metals Iberia (EMI).

EMI owns the Toral zinc/lead/silver project in Leon, northern Spain.

Under the agreed terms, Denarius will have the first option to subscribe for a 51% stake in EMI, until 22 November 2025.

Denarius will be entailed to invest $4m on the Toral project over a three-year period, complete a preliminary economic assessment, and submit a mining licence application by 31 July 2023 to the local Junta.

Denarius executive chairperson and CEO Serafino Iacono said: “The first year will see an application being made for a mining licence at the Toral project, thereby moving the project along the path towards potential future development.

“In subsequent years, Denarius will seek to expand the current footprint of the project to encompass the nearby historic third-party Antonina mine and delineate further high-grade mineral resources, following the success of Europa’s recent drill holes.”

Furthermore, Denarius has a second option to buy a further 29% stake in EMI by delivering a pre-feasibility study and making a $2m cash payment to Europa within 12 months following the closing of the first option.

The proposed transaction is subject to Europa shareholders’ nod, and once secured Denarius Metals will make an initial $100,000 payment to EMI. Denarius will also make a second aggregate payment of $550,000 following the completion of its financing, Mining Technology reports.

Extension of Lucky Invest’ lead-zinc deposit concession

The concession agreement for the Govedarnika deposit, located in the Plovdiv region, was signed in 2000. Lucky Invest is a unit of local mining company KCM 2000.

Bulgaria’s government said that it will extend by ten years its concession agreement with Lucky Invest for the lead-zinc ore deposit Govedarnika.

The extension was requested by the company in view of the significant resources remaining at the deposit, the government said in a statement following its weekly meeting.




EXIM and Ironbark to finance Greenland zinc-lead project

The US is dependent on imports for 82% of its annual zinc consumption, according to the US Geological Survey. For lead, the country imports 30% of its requirements. Export Import Bank of the United States EXIM is the official export credit agency of the US.

Ironbark Zinc has secured a letter of interest with the EXIM, which is considering financing up to US$216.1 million (A$308.6 million) of the company’s Citronen zinc-lead project in Greenland.

All up, the estimated construction cost for Citronen is US$514 million (A$734.04 million). Ironbark says that while the LIO is non-binding and does not represent an official commitment from EXIM, the company views it as an important step in advancing project financing for Citronen’s development. The proposed key commercial terms are that EXIM would be able to finance up to US$216.12 million of the US content for the project with a loan term of 8.5 years.

Ironbark says the execution of this LOI represents the culmination of initial discussions with EXIM where the US officials were briefed on the project and Ironbark’s proposed development plans. Ironbark managing director Michael Jardine said the company has been engaging with EXIM over the past six months with the intent of the parties to better understand each other’s strategic goals and steadily building the foundations for a long-term relationship.

“The execution of this LOI is another significant, and potentially transformational, milestone in the Ironbark journey towards Citronen’s development and the long-promised move from developer to producer,” he added.

“The company could not ask for a better potential counterparty than EXIM.”

Mr Jardine said EXIM’s mission is to support American jobs by facilitating the export of US goods and services. The US agency has extensive experience in backing mining developments.

He said the company will also be pursuing similar arrangements with other export credit agencies and commercial lenders. The feasibility study will be finished in early 2021 and, following that, Ironbark will seek to convert these agreements into binding financing deals. Citronen has a resource of 78 million tonnes at 5.1% zinc and 0.5% lead. The feasibility study will be based on mining 3.3Mt per year to produce 200,000tpa of zinc, with a mine life of 14 years (and which can be extended when further inferred resources are converted to reserves). The deposit has a contained 5.7Mt of contained zinc and lead.




Mineco Group at starting point of opening a new lead and zinc mine in the Raška district of Serbia

Mineco Limited is implementing its long-term development plan for south-east Europe, where it currently owns five active non-ferrous metal mines independently or with partners, three of which are located in Serbia, while two are in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The company, one of the largest investors in mining in the Western Balkans, continues to invest in mining in Serbia by opening another lead and zinc mine, within the municipality of Raška. Besides its current investment in the further development of its existing mines and geological research at several locations in the Balkans, Mineco has taken the first steps towards opening its fourth mine in Serbia with the acquisition of the Serbian mining company Vavrina Resources Ltd.

Vavrina Resources had previously bought the land required for the future production of zinc and lead ore and concentrate in the liquidation process of the former Suva Ruda mine. The plots were sold by ATB Bank in Amsterdam, one of the largest creditors of the former owner of the mine. This bank held the plots as part of the collateral for a loan of 25 million euros that was never repaid. Despite the exceptionally bad current global economic situation and the unpredictable dynamics of the recovery of the world raw materials market, Mineco decided to take this step because they believe that mining projects in Serbia still have a future for investment.

The director of the British company Mineco Limited, Bojan Popović, said that Mineco and its partners intend to build the necessary infrastructure on these plots, together with a plant to process ore into concentrates for export to end customers around the world.

“The next steps concern obtaining the right to prospect on our land, and the sooner we resolve this, the sooner we will be able to contribute to the economic growth of Raška, by resuming the production of non-ferrous metal ore concentrate produced by the Suva Ruda mine”, said Popović.

Popovic pointed out that the former mine, which was closed and neglected under the previous owner, had employed 250 to 350 people from the Raška district in various periods until 2002, and that it was a significant factor in the economic development of this area. As Popović recalled, Mineco had successfully started, recovered and made stable the mine near Gornji Milanovac, the Veliki Majdan mine in Ljubovija and Gross in Srebrenica, and also built two completely new mines: Bosil-Metal in Karamanica near Bosilegrad and Geomet in Olovo, which are of great importance to the local communities in these municipalities. Popovic emphasized that Mineco believes that the responsible authorities will recognize the potential that has opened up for the economic and social development of the Raška region, with an investor who has proven references for financing and launching similar mines in the region and who insists on complying with all legal regulations and on regular settlement of financial obligations, both to its staff and to the Republic of Serbia.