The company is planning a “Stage 1” trial mine and pilot processing plant at its Taronga project designed to produce 1,000 tonnes of tin concentrate over approximately 20 months. A key objective of the trial pit is to acquire further evidence to support the company’s belief that resource grades and tin recoveries can be upgraded from those reported in its 2014 pre-feasibility study.
The Mining Lease for the project, which was issued by the New South Wales Department of Environment and Planning, has been granted to 21 December 2029. A number of outstanding regulatory approvals remain before the company can commence its Stage 1 operations, but it is targeting first production of ore by the end of 2018 providing approvals are granted as expected.
The company is also exploring the potential benefits of applying optical ore sorting technology to the project. Pilot ore sorting test work has demonstrated significant potential benefits with up to 66% mass rejection of ore before the main processing plant. Chief Executive Officer Peter Williams said of the results “Aus Tin Mining is encouraged by the benefits ore‐sorting could deliver for the Taronga Tin Project, not only including the potential uplift in grade, but also the scope for lower costs and the long‐term potential opportunity to exploit more of the Mineral Resource”.
Our view: The acquisition of a mining lease is a significant development for Aus Tin on its path to full development of the Taronga tin project. Should ore production under the “Stage 1” phase commence by the end of the year, the potential tin volumes over the following 20 month trial period will be relatively small and full implementation of the Taronga project is likely to be a number of years away. However, potential improvements to the project economics from the implementation of new technologies such as optical ore sorting or a better understanding of the deposit made possible by the trial mining period should aid the case for full-scale project development.