The company revealed that a ‘detailed and comprehensive’ feasibility study has confirmed a robust project based on open pit mining and solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) copper heap leach processing.
At the same time, the company for the first time defined a metal reserve for the project and provided an updated assessment of resources.
With three meaningful milestones delivered the company is now looking ahead towards development and, ultimately, production.
“We are now in a position to complete detailed discussions with potential partners and advance an array of debt and equity financing opportunities,” said Peter Bird, Asiamet chief executive.
Highlights of the feasibility study
The study detailed an initial nine year production life for the proposed mine, with output pitched at 25,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year.
It projected some US$1.27bn of life-of-mine revenue, and, pitched the project’s post tax net present value at US$133.5mln.
Initial capital expenditure is estimated at US$192mln and the C1 cash costs are forecast at US$1.65 per pound of copper.
The report also noted the presence of exploration target in close proximity to the proposed BKM mine which have the potential to expand the resource inventory, and in turn expand the project’s mine life beyond 2030.
“Completion of the BFS is a major milestone for Asiamet,” Bird added.
“We are very pleased with the outputs derived as they deliver a technically and financially robust project that can be significantly further improved through a number of clearly defined initiatives.
“The value enhancement initiatives together with the exceptional exploration upside identified proximal to the BKM project have the potential to extend mine life and provide a substantial uplift in overall project value.
“Evaluation of these items is next on the agenda with resultant outcomes to be considered and followed by the detailed engineering and design phase.”
Maiden ore reserve
BKM’s first ore reserve comprises 21.1mln tonnes in the proved category, at a grade of 0.6%, representing some 137,000 tonnes of contained copper. It also has 30.4mln tonnes at 0.5% in the probable reserve category, for a further 166,000 tonnes of contained copper.
The company said that the ‘proved and probable’ reserve was estimated at 51.5mln tonnes at 0.6% giving a total of 303,000 tonnes of copper.
It highlighted that there had been a “very strong” conversion of measured and indicated resource into reserves which, according to Asiamet, highlights the positive attributes and robustness of the deposit.
Bird said: "We are very pleased to deliver a maiden ore reserve for the BKM copper project, a major milestone which assesses the economic viability of the project.”
“The very strong conversion of Resource to Reserve tonnages fully validates our belief that the BKM project represents a robust mid-size copper project with excellent potential for mine life extensions through further exploration and development.
“The BKM project lies in a very prospective mineral district and is one of a few copper development projects close to the main consumer markets in Asia, at a time when the copper market is forecast to move into a supply deficit due to a lack of investment in exploration and development over the past 10 years.”
New resource update
The new resource estimate comprises 69.6mln tonnes in total with a grade of 0.6%, giving an aggregate of 451,900 tonnes of contained copper.
It is made up of 20.6mln tonnes, at 0.7%, in the measured resource category plus 34.1mln tonnes, at 0.6%, in the indicated and 15mln tonnes, at 0.6%, in the inferred category.
The company noted that the deposit remains open, both laterally and at depth.
Bird highlighted: “This update incorporates our extensive historic drilling database with the latest results from the most recent (2018 and 2019) resource delineation drill programmes designed to capture additional Resources and hence ore blocks at the boundaries of the pit shells, as well as upgrading some inferred resources into the measured and indicated categories.
“The new MRE reinforces the integrity, size and scale of the BKM deposit and provides a solid foundation for our emerging mid-size BKM copper development project."