Amur Minerals PLC (LON:AMC) now has more than one million tonnes of nickel classified at its Kun-Manie project in Far East Russia.
Robin Young, chief executive, said that based on this information it could produce 40,000 to 60,000 nickel tonnes a year, which would place it at number eight in the list of the world’s nickel producers.
But it is clearly keen to build on this Total as it intends to drill a further 15,000m in 2017 to boost existing inferred resources to the more certain indicated category and find more metal.
Exploration will focus on the Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky (IKEN) and Kubuk (KUB) targets.
At KUB, Amur will drill 10,000 metres to convert a 10.9mln tonne inferred resource block to the more certain Indicated category.
At IKEN, 5,000 metres of resource expansion drilling will be taken towards Kubuk deposit, which is 3km to the east.
So far, most of the exploration at Kun-Manie has focused on the Maly Kurumkon / Flangovy deposits, but here the emphasis has shifted to mine and plant design with new equipment to brought in to identify water sources.
Total resource over 1mln tonnes
An upgrade in February boosted the total nickel resource at Kun-Manie to 101.3mln ore tonnes at a grade of 1.03%, which equates to 1.04mln tonnes with a value of US$10.5bn at current prices.
The latest upgrade saw a 38% increase in the total tonnage following an extensive drill programme at Maly Kurumkon/ Flangovy over the summer.
Importantly, more than 80% (81.2 mln ore tonnes) of the resource is classified as higher confidence Measured and Indicated and can therefore be included as reserves in the mine plan.
Based on a cut-off grade of 0.4% nickel and a recovery rate of 80%, Amur estimates it can break even in a range of US$3.40 to US$5.70. The current market price is around US$4.75 per pound.
Young added that with the latest resource it can now identify mining ore reserves available for both an open pit and underground operation.
''With more than 80 million ore tonnes of the 101.3 million resource tonnes classified as Measured and Indicated resource, we anticipate having two thirds of our Life of Mine reserve defined.
It is rare to see a junior resource company have such a large asset with so much of it drilled to such a high level of confidence.”