Asian Mineral Resources Continues Strong Operational Performance; Strong EM Conductors Identified at Kingsnake Exploration Prospect
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 28, 2015) - Asian Mineral Resources Limited ("AMR" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:ASN) is pleased to provide an operational update for the third quarter of 2015 ("Q3").
· Above-guidance Q3 production(1):
o 2,629 tonnes of nickel milled production;
o 1,109 tonnes of copper milled production; and
o 14,050 tonnes dry concentrate sold.
· Mill recoveries exceed targets at 87.7% nickel and 95.3% copper.
· C1 unit operating costs(2) below-guidance at US$ 3.49/lb Ni, including royalties and export taxes.
· Full repayment of the outstanding term loan facility of US$12 million and repayment of US$2.7 million working capital facility.
· 1.2km mineralized zone identified at the Kingsnake prospect; Electromagnetic ("EM") conductors identified at depth.
· Concentrate sales lower than forecast due to delays associated with shipping to Tianjin port.
Commenting on Asian Mineral Resources' Q3 performance and exploration progress, CEO, Evan Spencer, said:
"AMR's strong operational performance has continued to underpin the business during this extended low-pricing cycle. As notified to the market on 30th September 2015, sustained strong operational performance combined with our ongoing stated objective to reduce costs enabled Ban Phuc Nickel Mines, AMR's Vietnamese subsidiary, to pay down US$14.7 million in debt during the quarter. The subsequent temporary delay in BPNM's nickel concentrate shipments to Tianjin port has not impacted the operation. Shipments have re-commenced and we expect to return to our normal shipping schedule over the coming months. The short-term bridge facility provided by our major shareholder, Pala Investments, has enabled us to work though this delay in shipping in a controlled fashion.
Exploration at our high priority Kingsnake prospect has provided exciting results. The structural re-interpretation combined with field mapping, geochemical sampling and surface EM work undertaken during Q3 has identified the potential for a mineralized system up to 1.2 km in length at Kingsnake. The presence of a number of EM conductors at depth has enable detailed drill targeting to begin. The confirmation of mineralization at Kingsnake is a significant discovery and provides the opportunity for AMR to access additional mineralization from the existing mine infrastructure should economic quantities of mineralization be confirmed."
AMR produced 2,307 tonnes of nickel metal, 1,058 tonnes of copper metal and 75 tonnes of cobalt metal in concentrate in Q3 2015. Optimization of the processing circuit implemented during Q2 has resulted in a sustained improvement in processing recoveries with Q3 2015 recovery achieving 87.7%, above a design target of 85%.
Three product shipments were completed in Q3 2015. This was below expectation due to the unplanned shipping delays to Tianjin in September, for a total of 14,050 tonnes of dry concentrate. The average realized nickel price for the quarter was US$4.40/lb (US$9,699/tonne).
Key Operating Highlights
All key capital expenditures were completed in Q3 as planned. The Ban Phuc mine has now shifted to a stoping operation having completed all planned underground development. This will allow further sustainable reductions in operating costs through 2015 and into 2016. C1 operating cash costs for Q3 were, net of by-product credits and inclusive of all royalties and tariffs to US$ 3.49/lb (Q2 2015: US$4.55/lb).
During Q3 AMR paid down US$ 14.7 million in debt as part of its strategy to reduce costs and generate greater flexibility with cash management. Subsequent to AMR paying down its in-country term loan facility, Ban Phuc concentrate shipments via Tianjin port were impacted. To ease short-term cashflow as a result of these shipping delays, AMR through one of its wholly owned subsidiaries, entered into a short-term US$2.1 million facility with its major shareholder, Pala Investments. This facility is expected to be repaid during Q4 2015. Shipping operations recommenced in October and AMR will begin to reduce finished product concentrate stockpiles during the quarter.
As of 30th September, the company had a cash and trade receivables position of US$ 2.1 million.
The Kingsnake prospect, as discussed in the press release of 16 June 2015, is one of AMR's high-priority exploration targets identified along the 2.8km Ban Khoa trend. The Ban Khoa trends sits approximately 1km to the north east of the existing Ban Phuc operations.
During the quarter, planned exploration activities at the Kingsnake prospect focused on continuing to understand the structural controls and map the extent of the Kingsnake trend. This work initially focused on field mapping and trenching to confirm the surface expression of the Kingsnake structure and was followed up with focused Fixed Loop Transient Electromagnetic ("FLTEM") geophysical surveys.
Seven trenches were dug to facilitate the mapping of the outcropping 525 meter strike extent of the nickeliferous gossan. Mineralization consists of a shear controlled tremolite dyke and brecciated MSV with dip direction varying between SW to NE, similar to the Ban Phuc deposit.
Historical exploration work completed between 2005-2013 included 13 drill holes to test previous EM anomalies. The majority of these holes (8) intersected nickel sulphide mineralization. The remainder either missed due to the west plunge of the orebody or were drilled too steep to intersect a steeply dipping orebody.
To view Figure 1, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/1030348a.pdf
Field mapping and trenching undertaken during Q3 was followed up with two FLTEM surveys. The first FLTEM survey identified a number of strong conductors west of Kingsnake MSV. The second survey identified a larger moderate conductor coincident with, and directly west, of the known gossan.
The combination of structural mapping, trenching and the confirmation of the conductors at depth has provided specific drill targets and increased confidence in the conceptual targets generated in the structural review in Q2.
To view Figure 2, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/1030348b.pdf
FLTEM has increased the confidence in utilizing coincident nickel and copper soil anomalies to design future geophysical surveys. Such knowledge provides a significant exploration tool for future regional exploration targeting and continues to highlight the significant prospectivity of AMR's exploration package in North Vietnam.
The combination of mapping, trenching and FLTEM survey has identified an overall strike length for the Kingsnake structure of 1.2km from outcropping gossan to the last conductor. Kingsnake is located approximately 1km from the existing Ban Phuc mining and processing infrastructure allowing AMR to potentially leverage the significant historic investment in any potential development of the prospect.
To view Figure 3, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/1030348c.pdf
AMR is one of the few new sources of nickel sulphide supply globally. AMR commenced commercial production from its Ban Phuc nickel mine in Vietnam in mid-2013. The Ban Phuc project currently produces over 6,900 tonnes of nickel and 3,500 tonnes of copper per annum contained in concentrate, plus a cobalt by-product.
In addition to in and near-mine expansion projects, Ban Phuc provides a cash-generative operating platform from which AMR can continue to focus on developing a new nickel camp within its 150km2 of concessions located throughout the highly-prolific Song Da rift zone, where AMR has a number of advanced-stage nickel exploration targets.
For further details on AMR, please refer to the technical report entitled "NI 43-101 Technical Report - Ban Phuc Nickel Project" dated February 15, 2013 available on SEDAR or the AMR website www.asianmineralres.com.