Alphamin have today announced that the Bisie tin project, Democratic Republic of Congo, is edging towards full production, with the front-end crushing circuit reaching nameplate capacity of some 60 tonnes per hour.

The processing plant’s front-end crushing circuit has now been fully commissioned, with some 6,500 tonnes of ore having been crushed and stockpiled in preparation for the operation of the gravity separation circuit. The cold commissioning of the gravity concentration section has also commenced and is progressing well, according to the company.

In January, the company announced plans to alter the mining method, from sub-level caving to cut and fill. The previous method removed more material, but at a lower grade. The cut and fill method allows the company to be more selective; horizontal layers are mined out consecutively before being back-filled, resulting in lower ore loss and dilution. Production of ore via the new method is now underway, with a detailed mine schedule having been received for 2019 and 2020. Full ramp up and commissioning is expected in Q2 2019, along with an updated life of mine schedule. Subsequently, production is expected to reach nameplate capacity in Q3 2019, with an updated NI 43-101 and project economics to follow. Initial analysis indicates that unit costs per ton of ore will be higher than anticipated in the company’s most recent feasibility study.

Our View: Although Bisie is still on track for nameplate production in the second half of 2019, the change in mining method has resulted in a slower ramp up of material to the run of mine stockpile. In addition to this, the company have announced that current cash flow projections indicate a short-term working capital shortfall of some $9 million. Alphamin is seeking up to $12 million from its lenders to cover this shortfall, as well as any unforeseen challenges.