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Panoramic Resources on track for first shipment from recommissioned nickel-copper-cobalt project

Ramp-up to full underground production is on schedule and concentrate is being trucked to the Wyndham port.
Unloading concentrate at Wyndham port shed
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Savannah concentrate being unloaded at the port shed in Wyndham

Panoramic Resources Ltd (ASX:PAN) is taking great strides in recommissioning the Savannah Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project in WA with first concentrate shipment scheduled early next month.

The ramp-up to full underground mining production continues for the project in the Kimberley region while the process plant achieved a daily throughput rate of 2,000 tonnes early this month.

Preparing for revenue

Trucking of concentrate to the port of Wyndham has started as the company prepares for revenue from the initial shipment of between 5,000 and 8,000 wet metric tonnes of concentrate.

Panoramic’s managing director Peter Harold said: “Activities at site have gathered momentum in the past few months as the recruitment of personnel continued and mining and milling operations recommenced after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus.

“The team at Savannah have done an outstanding job to recommission both the underground mine and the processing plant and it was fantastic to see ore on the ROM pad and the mill turning again in late December when I visited site.”

A refurbished ROM ore bin.

READ: Panoramic Resources set to reopen its Savannah Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project by March

Panoramic commissioned the $65 million Savannah project in late 2004 and in 2005 purchased and restarted the Lanfranchi Nickel Project, near Kambalda.

In the 2014 financial year, the company produced a record 22,256 tonnes of contained nickel and produced 19,301 tonnes of contained nickel in the following 12 months.

The Lanfranchi and Savannah projects were placed on care and maintenance in November 2015 and May 2016 respectively pending a sustained recovery in the nickel price.

Restart decision

After delivering an updated feasibility study on the Savannah project in October 2017, securing an offtake customer and putting in place project financing in July 2018, the company decided to restart operations.

In December 2018 the Lanfranchi project was sold for a total cash consideration of $15.1 million, providing additional financial support for the Savannah plan.

SAG mill at the Savannah processing plant.

Underground work

Underground operations recommenced during the December 2018 quarter focused on the following:

- Recommissioning of underground air, water and electrical services;
- Rehabilitation of previous ground support;
- Production drilling to build-up ROM ore stocks;
- Commencement of mine production activities on the Savannah ore body; and
- Development of the declines across to the Savannah North ore body.

Panoramic expects that production from Savannah North will ultimately replace production from the Savannah ore body in late 2019.

At December 31, 2018, there were about 17,000 tonnes of ore on the ROM pad and another 10,000 tonnes of broken stocks underground.

Flotation cells in operation.

Harold said: “We still need to fill a number of positions, particularly in mining and maintenance, and that, together with some unscheduled events, slowed the ramp-up of mining, however. we have identified the issues and have plans in place to resolve these.”

After completing the process plant refurbishment in late November, recommissioning began in mid-December with first ore run through the mill on December 17.

Despite a number of mechanical and electrical issues, by early January mill throughput was exceeding 2,000 tonnes of ore per day.

Up to nameplate capacity

“The mill has ramped up to nameplate capacity and we have booked our first concentrate ship, which is due to arrive for loading in early February,” Harold added.

Company-owned and operated prime movers and trailers are being used to transport concentrate to Wyndham port.

Progress has also been made with the ventilation rise and the tailings storage facility (TSF) rise.

RUC Cementation has completed the pilot hole for the 900-metre raise-bore.

A raise-borer reaming head is on site and reaming is scheduled to begin this month.

The ventilation rise is due for completion in the September 2019 quarter.

New 3-metre wall lift at the tailings storage facility.

At the TSF, earthworks for the 3-metre wall lift was completed in November.

Panoramic has also progressed the recruiting and onboarding of personnel with about 190 people now employed.

Around 60 positions remain to be filled and many of these are covered by labour-hire personnel until the permanent positions are filled.

Panoramic bus collecting staff from Kununurra airport.

Well-funded

At December 31, 2018, Panoramic had about $19 million in available and restricted cash.

At January 14, 2019, the company also had $11.5 million available to be drawn down against its $40 million project financing facility with Macquarie Bank which was executed in September 2018.

The company’s vision is to broaden its exploration and production base, with the aim of becoming a major, diversified mining company in the S&P/ASX 100 Index.

Diversified base

Panoramic has a diversified resource base including platinum group metals (PGM) and gold.

The PGM Division consists of the Panton project, 60 kilometres south of the Savannah project and the Thunder Bay North Project in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Rio Tinto plc (LON:RIO) is earning 70% in the latter by spending up to C$20 million over five years.

Following the ASX listing of Horizon Gold Limited (ASX:HRN) in December 2016, the company’s interest in gold consists of an indirect investment in the Gum Creek Gold Project near Wiluna through its 51% majority shareholding in Horizon.

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