Tin miner Alphamin Resources in January reported that its tin production at its high-grade operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo increased by 13% to a quarterly record of 2 898 t. This exceeded the company’s market guidance of between 2 600 t and 2 800 t.
The company also provided an operational update for the quarter ended December 2020.
The outperformance was owed to better-than-expected tin feed grades and plant recoveries.
The processing plant performed at an average recovery of 74% for the quarter, including a record recovery of 77%, achieved last December.
Quarterly sales decreased by 14%, owing to extreme seasonal rains impacting on road conditions and, as a result, hindering product transportation. Weather stations across the export route reported rainfall above 159% of the long-term mean.
The short dry season (January to March) allows road maintenance to be done and road conditions are already improving. The company expects to recoup the majority of the shortfall during the first quarter of 2021.
The LME tin price has increased from about $18 500/t during the last quarter of last year to a current level of $21 000/t, which bodes well for Alphamin’s 2021 earnings.
The Bisie tin mine recorded zero lost-time injuries in the last quarter.
Alphamin’s audited consolidated financial statements and the accompanying management discussion and analysis for the quarter and the year ended December 31, 2020, are expected to be released in March.
Alphamin’s short-term objective is to increase annualised contained tin production from the current level of 11 000 t to 13 000 t. This increase is expected from July this year, following the commissioning of the previously announced fine tin recovery plant and a planned increase of between 5% to 10% in processed ore volumes.
On this basis, the company expects contained tin production of 5 500 t in the first half of 2021, increasing to 6 500 t in the second half of 2021, which would achieve the company’s annualised production goal of 13 000 t.
The company has a range of Covid-19 awareness, prevention and other risk mitigation controls in place. To date, the company has been able to continue with normal production and concentrate sales activities and has not been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fine tin recovery plant is 70% complete and progressing on schedule for commissioning in April 2021. Estimated expenditure is in line with the budget of $4.6-million.
Drilling at the Mpama South deposit, located only 750 m south of the current processing facility, commenced in December last year.
Two drilling campaigns are scheduled on Mpama South for this year.
Phase 1 is planned as a 6 000 m diamond drilling campaign to be executed between December and March this year. Subject to positive drill results, Alphamin expects to declare maiden mineral resources during the second quarter of this year.
Phase 2 of the Mpama South drilling programme is planned as a 2 500 m diamond drilling campaign to be executed during the third quarter of this year. This second phase of drilling is aimed at testing the limits of mineralisation on this deposit, to depths of up to 500 m below surface and along strike, to better understand the potential for establishing another long life, high-grade mine at the Bisie complex.
While Mpama South could provide an opportunity to increase the production rate and life of operations at Bisie, an extension of the life-of-mine at Mpama North (currently producing orebody) can be confirmed by drilling downdip and along strike, beyond the northernmost holes drilled in the 2014 drilling campaign.
A 6 000 m diamond drilling campaign is planned for execution in the second quarter of this year from an underground drilling drive located on Level 6 at Mpama North.
Establishing access for the drill rig to start drilling is planned for April of this year.
Further, the 14-km-long Bisie Ridge, hosting both Mpama North and South, has a plethora of anomalous geochemical targets for follow- up, and lies entirely within Alphamin’s tenements.
In this regard, Alphamin has started an extensive soil sampling campaign, and is allocating expert resources to identify additional drill targets for the second half of this year.