JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - Shareholders of ASX-listed Intrepid Mines have voted in favour of Weatherly International's acquisition of the Kitumba copper project, in Zambia.
The proposed A$4.75-million deal was announced in December.
The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval by the Zambian Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development, as well as by the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Weatherly on Friday also announced the outline of its project development plan for Kitumba, which focused initially on a high-grade and high-confidence Phase 1 development zone within the resource.
Previous development plans for Kitumba were based on a large-scale and high capital cost development of the entire resource from the outset, and also included a decision to follow a relatively complex processing route using pressure oxidation to oxidise the sulphide minerals.
Weatherly further stated that it intends to pursue a two-phase development approach focussed initially on a Phase 1 development zone of higher-confidence and higher-grade mineralisation within the overall resource at Kitumba.
The underground mine plan will be revised to focus on this Phase 1 development area, with capital expenditure reduced to suit a Phase 1 mining production rate of 750 000 t/y to one-million tons a year of ore.
Further, Weatherly intends to evaluate a lower-risk and lower-cost processing route using a combination of flotation and atmospheric leaching plus solvent-extraction and electrowinning to produce a concentrate containing the sulphide minerals for sale to local smelters, plus producing refined copper cathode from the oxide minerals within the resource.
To assist with this work, Weatherly engaged mining consultancy MSA Group to provide an updated Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant mineral resource estimate using a 2% copper cutoff grade.
They have now completed that work and the measured and indicated mineral resource estimate at a 2% copper cutoff grade, comprising 9.5-million tons at 3.6% copper, contains 342 000 t of copper, with 5.3-million tons at 4.04% copper classified as measured, and 4.2-million tons at 3.05% copper classified as indicated.
Weatherly believes the change to a phased development approach focussed initially on high-confidence high-grade ore and the changed processing route will, together, significantly improve the financial metrics of Kitumba, and will allow the company to fast-track to financing and production.
Next steps involve re-logging of the substantial quantity of existing core and additional assaying to inform an improved geo-metallurgical model, followed by supplementary metallurgical testwork to form the basis of a new prefeasibility study (PFS) for a Phase 1 mine development.
Upon completion of a positive PFS this year, a bankable feasibility study will be undertaken and funding sought, with target completion by the end of 2019, for construction during 2020.
Once the Phase 1 development is financed and under construction, the company will examine a Phase 2 development, which will evaluate production or mine life extension options based on the overall resource.