The small drop in tin output compared to the last quarter of 2017 was due to slightly lower tin recoveries of 73.4% despite an increase in ore grade to 1.27%. 207,639 tonnes of ore were mined in Q1, up 11% both year-on-year and compared to the previous quarter, despite the volume of ore processed remaining broadly stable at 185,196 tonnes. Cash costs rose to A$11,429 (US$8,800) per tonne of tin contained up 5.2% from Q4.
Surplus ore is being stockpiled ahead of the completion of a new ore sorting plant. During the quarter, construction of the ore sorter accelerated with the fabrication completed and construction beginning. The ore sorter and additional mine development required to boost output remain on track for completion in the June 2018 quarter.
Our view: Metals X owns a 50% equity interest in Renison through its 50% stake in the Bluestone Mines Tasmania Joint Venture. With the commissioning of the new ore sorter, we provisionally anticipate that production from the underground mine will total some 8,000 tonnes in 2018, with output rising to 8,500tpy in subsequent years.