PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed American Pacific Borates (ABR) has announced plans to defer Phase 1A of its Fort Cady borate mine, in Southern California.
The starter project had initially targeted a production rate of 40 000 t/y sulphate of potash (SoP) and 9 000 t/y of boric acid, increasing to 90 000 t/y SoP and 80 000 t/y boric acid during Phase 1B.
The Phase 2 project would ultimately increase production to 109 000 t/y SoP and 408 000 t/y boric acid, while the Phase 3 development would push production to 400 000 t/y of SoP and 450 000 t/y of boric acid.
However, ABR noted that a recently appointed US advisory board had completed an initial strategic business plan to consider the efficacy of the current staged approach at Fort Cady, which found that a larger, single construction operation would be more beneficial.
The company on Monday told shareholders that the decision to defer the construction of the Phase 1A construction at Fort Cady mine would allow ABR to focus on larger borate operations and production of borate specialties in combination with sales of boric acid.
The company would now focus on two base case alternatives, including combining all current Phase 1 operations into a 90 000 t/y boric acid and 80 000 t/y SoP operation, or a larger operation combining Phase 1 with the current Phase 2 operation to deliver 270 000 t/y of boric acid and 240 000 t/y of SoP.
The advisory board has recommended that ABR consider completing additional drilling with a view to expanding the footprint and scale of the current mineral resource estimate, with the company now preparing an exploration target with a view to identifying potential resource upside and starting drilling later in the current year.
ABR told shareholders that the company’s focus would now be on completing pilot production wells and processing, value engineering on the existing mine plans with a view to increase boric acid head grade from the wells, updating the studies for the new base mine alternatives and preparing an exploration target and completing resource drilling.
ABR noted that was unlikely to be in a position to complete its strong listing into the US in the current calendar year.