New Century Resources has boosted its zinc production by 50.4 percent from 2018’s fourth quarter, hitting 18,170 tonnes during Q1 2019.
The increase comes as the company continues to ramp up production at its Century mine in Queensland, Australia, a process that began in August 2018. Total zinc recoveries averaged 50 percent in March and peaked at 54 percent, which New Century says is 86 percent of the asset’s design target.
Zinc produced in Q1 came from 37,500 tonnes of concentrate grading 48.3 percent zinc; in contrast, Q4 2018 saw 25,500 tonnes of concentrate at 47 percent zinc. Silver content came in at 152 grams per tonne within the concentrate in both quarters.
The quality of the zinc concentrate also improved, as lead impurity content dropped 25 percent from Q4 2018’s 7.5 percent lead to March’s 5.6 percent lead.
After the quarter ended, a third mining cannon and pumping system was installed at Century, allowing for operations to ramp up to a mining rate between 8 and 10 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) during Q2.
By the end of the 2019 calendar year, and with the addition of five new mining cannons, New Century is aiming to hit a mining rate of 15 Mtpa. The company plans to continue progressing towards nameplate recovery through Q2; plant capacity is docketed to more than double this year through further flotation cell refurbishments in line with ramp up to five cannons.
The company is currently striving to become one of the world’s top 10 zinc producers, with the Century mine’s restart feasibility study laying out a projected production rate of 507,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate per year over an initial 6.3 year mine life.
However, New Century says that the current work plan for the asset will take the mine site, pipeline and port facility to full closure in 2050.
The Century mine began open pit production in 1999, complete with a processing plant, supporting infrastructure and a 304 kilometer pipeline to Queensland’s Karumba port. Processing operations were eventually terminated by former owner MMG (HKEX:1208) in early 2016 due to depleted ore reserves; New Century later acquired the mine in 2017.
As of Wednesday (April 10), zinc was trading at US$2,944 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange. New Century closed 10.98 percent higher on the ASX on Thursday (April 11), ending the day at AU$0.91.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.