The completion of a revised mine schedule by Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, undertaken as part of FEED process optimisation activities, has identified the potential benefits of focusing on two higher grade vanadium pits within the resource for at least the first 10 years of operations.
Mining these high-grade vanadium pits from the commencement of operations has the potential to reduce the proposed annual ore mining and processing rates, while at the same meeting targeted magnetite concentrate quality and volumes and deliver a consistently higher-grade magnetite concentrate to the proposed Tivan processing facility in Darwin.
Reductions in the proposed ore mining and processing rates could potentially reduce mining costs and the costs associated with waste haulage of tailings to the integrated waste landform (IWL). Ongoing FEED work will verify the potential operational and financial impact of the revised mine schedule, including the impact of reductions in ore mining and processing rates on plant equipment sizing, supporting the refinement of the financial model incorporating any resulting revisions in opex and capex.
The Company has commenced a short diamond drilling program at Mount Peake as part of the ongoing predevelopment engineering and optimisation work. The program will deliver samples for analysis to assist with the completion of FEED programs currently in progress, providing information on: blastability, material handling testing, variability test work, acid mine drainage studies, and groundwater monitoring.
Blastability refers to the rock properties that relate to the ease and cost of blasting and fragmentation of rock material, with rock strength and density being two measurable characteristics that allow it to be determined. Samples from the current drilling program will undergo several tests to better inform the drill and blast contractors and confirm mining costs.
Material handling test work will be performed to support the targeted availability and utilisation of the beneficiation plant. These tests will review the strength, hardness and abrasiveness of the material, assisting with determining materials for construction, projected maintenance opex and preventative maintenance tactics.
These and other previous samples will then be used to define ore variability over the deposit, in order to optimise the mining schedule producing consistent quality and production of magnetite concentrate with the current beneficiation plant design.
Additionally, the ore samples from throughout the deposit (spatially as well as taking into consideration grade variation), will then be used to further define variability of the ore material, focusing specifically on the starter pit area and production for the initial years. The selection of this starter pit is expected to reduce costs associated with haulage of both ore to the beneficiation plant and filtered tailings to the IWL.
Sample material will allow for an expanded acid mine drainage test work program as part of the requirements of the mine site EIS approval obtained in 2018. The completed diamond drill holes will be used for ongoing groundwater monitoring purposes. Both acid mine drainage and groundwater monitoring are requirements of the EIS approval and form part of the mine management plan, which is currently in progress.
In total approximately 900m of PQ-sized diamond core will be drilled, to generate over 500m of mineralised core and approximately 8t of ore material. The new diamond drilling program is expected to be completed within a month, with all samples dispatched for testing by mid-September.
Following the reverse circulation drilling program completed in April this year, eight bulk ore composite samples (approximately 800kg each) were dispatched to a metallurgical test work facility to produce magnetite concentrate. This process is nearing completion, generating over 1.5t of magnetite concentrate which can be used by TNG and SMS group for FEED-related test work over the coming months.
An initial consignment of magnetite concentrate was delivered in July to SMS group in Germany for equipment selection test work. Proven technology suppliers have been engaged to undertake this test work, which is being overseen by SMS group in consultation with TNG's technical team.
TNG's MD and CEO, Paul Burton, said the ongoing FEED work had generated a number of very positive and significant outcomes for the company and its shareholders: "We are delighted that the optimisation work completed so far has demonstrated the potential benefits of a project focused on higher-grade vanadium zones within the Resource over the first 10 years. The proposed revised mine schedule may represent a technically and logistically simpler and more streamlined mining operation, potentially making the project simpler to finance. We are looking forward to receiving the results of the financial impact analysis being undertaken on the revised mine schedule."
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