Wolf Minerals produced the first tungsten concentrate at its Drakelands open-pit mine on Monday.
Wolf Minerals (ASX:WLF,LSE:WLFE) produced the first tungsten concentrate at its Drakelands open-pit mine on Monday, taking another step toward opening Great Britain’s first new metal mine in 45 years. The mine was constructed at Wolf’s Hemerdon project, which is considered the world’s third-largest tungsten and tin resource.
The company also said that commissioning of the crushing and scrubbing section of the processing plant at Drakelands, as well as the fines section, has been completed; design tonnage throughput for both is now being met. Meanwhile, the refinery section of the plant is moving into its final stages of commissioning. The entire plant is expected to be commissioned sometime in September.
That’s a little later than was initially expected — according to Wolf, there was a delay in plant commissioning when the exciter bars of two vibrating screens broke due to a manufacturing fault. The bars have since been re-manufactured and replaced.
“Overall, commissioning activities are going well and the operating teams have learned how to manage the plant in different conditions. Commissioning is a time when all processes and equipment are fully tested and performance established. By its very nature it is not unusual to encounter a number of challenges along the way and our teams are working successfully together to address these,” Wolf’s managing director, Russell Clark, said in a press release.
Now that the first tungsten concentrate has been produced at Hemerdon, it will be shipped to the US and Austria. “We are very pleased to announce that as part of the commissioning process we have now produced tungsten concentrates to the required specification. We look forward to shipping our first tungsten concentrates to Global Tungsten and Powders in the USA and to Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten in Austria,” Clark said.
As mentioned, the Hemerdon project is considered the third-largest tungsten and tin resource in the world. Wolf increased the ore reserves at the project this past March to 35.7 million tonnes at 0.18 percent tungsten and 0.03 percent tin. These numbers replace those reported in a 2011 definitive feasibility study, and are the result of a successful 2014 geotechnical drilling program that targeted the potential for steeper pit walls. That led Wolf to revamp its mining plan and increase its life of mine by three years, with the potential for more.
Besides completing the construction of the processing plant, all of the infrastructure surrounding it — including a laboratory, an administration building, water dams and a mine waste facility — has also been completed on schedule. What’s more, Wolf has broadened its management capabilities as it shifts into production, appointing Emma Hall as its new general manager of business development. Hall will focus on managing arrangements with existing offtake partners and maximizing the value of production streams.
“As we look to the next quarter, our focus will be on delivering first product to customers in September, and ramping up the plant to full production by early 2016,” Clark said in Wolf’s recent quarterly report. “We are working through a six month trial of seven day a week operations, and we will be seeking to formalize this arrangement permanently by the year’s end.”
At close of day Tuesday, Wolf Minerals’ share price was unmoved on the ASX at AU$0.37. Year-to-date the company is up 39.62 percent.
Securities Disclosure: I, Kristen Moran, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Wolf Minerals is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.