Production at the Renison mine in Tasmania, Australia, finished 2020 on a low note as tin-in-concentrate production fell some 14% quarter-on-quarter. However, half-owner Metals X is forecasting that production will improve in 2021.
Without any impact of coronavirus at the mine, 2020 has generally been a good year for the Renison mine. Metals X has been working on several initiatives at the now 131-year old mine site which have improved production throughout the year.
The most exciting of these programs has been focused on bringing Area 5 online. This new mine sector promises higher tin grades, upping output and reducing costs. The initial impact of this was seen in the third quarter this year as grades jumped from 1.19% Sn to 1.58% Sn. Tin-in-concentrate production also rose 34%. However, mining in the new area was reduced during the final quarter of 2020. Metals X reportedly prioritised further development of the Area 5 ventilation system, lowering overall tin grades for the quarter. Grades fell to just 1.11% Sn, lowering tin-in-concentrate production 1,999 tonnes, some 14% lower quarter-on-quarter.
Even without Area 5 this year, Renison likely would have seen increased output thanks to the Metallurgical Improvement Program. The program has been running since the end of 2019 and aimed to increase throughput and recovery at the mine’s processing plant by upgrading control systems and analytical infrastructure. Recovery at the processing plant averaged 72.4% in 2018; recoveries of 76.9% in 2020Q4 show a marked improvement.
This positive trend in recovery improvements is likely to continue into next year, which, alongside consistent production from Area 5, should see Renison produce some 8,200 – 8,500 tonnes of tin-in-concentrate. However, this could be further boosted in Metals X decides to introduce a tin fumer into the existing processing flow. This would produce a high grade tin fume product, separate to the existing gravity concentrate. The fuming technology could also treat tailings from Renison, facilitating the development of the Rentails project.