Aim-listed Bezant Resources on Tuesday said that an independent study had found that the Mankayan copper/gold porphyry supported different robust routes for the future development of its Philippines-based project.
This included, for the first time, a sub-level caving (SLC) ‘stepping stone’ scenario, with two main block caving (BC) routes identified for progression, from a total of 11 assessed scenarios. Both supported an average production grade of more than 0.64% copper equivalent.
The explorer also said that, under all four of the representative options selected for further analysis in the study, the time to initial production was about five years. The first five years of production were sequenced in order to deliver production from the higher-grade areas of the deposit, in some cases demonstrating average grades achievable of up to 0.77% copper equivalent during this initial period.
Off-site costs for concentrate handling and smelting were incorporated into the project’s economics for the first time, in order to “more accurately demonstrate development viability”.
Commenting on the study results, Bezant CEO Laurence Read said that historic studies on the project were designed to optimise the mining model without necessarily taking account of influential factors, such as capital spread, the high-grade core, mining rates and footprint, as well as possible intermediary routes in order to achieve initial production from a reduced capital outlay.
The latest study, therefore, would enable Bezant’s management team to plan for different potential production scenarios ranging from six-million tonnes a year, to 12-million tonnes a year without unduly affecting financial ratios, he added.
"The identification of a SLC route also provides a potential new way forward for Mankayan by way of an intermediary step towards full BC which, when combined with new sequencing work, allows for first revenues to be achieved earlier for significantly reduced start-up [capital expenditure],” Read noted.
He added that the inclusion for the first time of estimated off-site costs in the project's economics represents an important element in assessing margins from the eventual future sales of concentrate.
"Our work with Mining Plus affords us great confidence that the project lends itself to potential future development by medium-size mining companies, as well as the majors, seeking to secure a long-term source of physical copper and gold.
"The board remains positive regarding the fundamentals for copper over the next three years and believes that signs of a supply shortfall are already becoming evident."
The updated analysis built and improved on the 2014 scoping study update, following analysis of the key inputs and characteristics in addition to the company’s review of the project last year.
The project has an indicated resource of 1.1-million tonnes of contained copper and 3.7-million ounces of contained gold and an inferred resource of 0.2-million tonnes of contained copper and 0.6-million ounces of contained gold.