Open Pit Mining Activities
Cradle Arc (AIM: CRA), the African focused base and precious metals exploration and production company says following the resumption of normal production drilling rates in August 2018, enabling a significant amount of waste stripping to be completed, approximately 2 million tonnes of accessible transitional and supergene ore has now been exposed within the Mowana North pit and North Rim Extension. Such material is anticipated to deliver improved recoveries at a reduced production cost over the remainder of the year and into 2019.
As announced on 29 August 2018, due to the lower volume of available ore being delivered to the processing plant and sporadic interruptions to processing due to plant outages, the Company’s H2 2018 production target of 4,000 tonnes of contained copper production was weighted towards Q4 2018, with circa 1,000 tonnes expected in Q3 2018.
Since then, additional processing interruptions have continued to be experienced due to further intermittent equipment breakdowns and, most recently, a delay in the delivery of a new part for the primary crusher hydraulic power pack at the plant which has further adversely impacted the processing of ore at the plant. As a result, the Company now expects total Q3 2018 production to be approximately 10% to 20% lower than its previous forecast. Actual production of contained copper totaled 292 tonnes and 242 tonnes for July 2018 and August 2018 respectively.
Although the interruptions to processing operations have led to inefficiencies with respect to recovery rates, in light of the abovementioned work completed on the open pit and the expectation of improved material throughput and recoveries going forward, management is confident of an improvement in performance in Q4 2018. The overall target of 4,000 tonnes for H2 2018 is, however, currently under review and will be dependent on achieving higher plant availability for processing operations at the Mine during the remaining period when higher grade ores and recoveries are expected.
Financing Update and Planned Processing Plant Upgrades
Whilst the Company continues to seek financing for its proposed Dense Media Separation (DMS) upgrade project, in light of the continued processing plant interruptions, the Board has decided to focus in the near term on securing the requisite funding to improve and rehabilitate the current processing facilities and establish an inventory of certain key spare parts, to seek to mitigate the occurrences of further processing plant breakdowns and interruptions during the critical ramp-up phase and which are a pre-requisite to installation of the potential DMS upgrades. Further updates will be made as and when appropriate.
Kevin van Wouw, CEO of Cradle Arc, noted that, “In spite of the continued sporadic interruptions being experienced at the Mowana processing plant, we have made good progress with our open pit mining activities with a large amount of waste stripping completed in order to lay the groundwork for a strong period of ore delivery going forward.
“Whilst production during Q3 has been disappointing and our overall production guidance for H2 2018 is under review, we are working hard to get Mowana on a sound and sustainable footing for what could potentially be decades of production, given the recent renewal of our permits along strike to the north of the open pit.”