Tawanda Musarurwa Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe-focused diversified mining group Premier African Minerals, says a study from consultant Bara has confirmed that its 49 percent-owned RHA Tungsten Mine in the country has shown that it would be technically viable to restart underground mining.
The RHA Tungsten project is located in an area of historic production – approximately 270km northwest of Bulawayo — that comprises 50 mineral claim blocks, covering 1 800 hectares, consisting of 10 owned by Premier and 40 which are under option.
Small-scale surface and underground mining was conducted at the site between 1931 and 1979.
Total production from the RHA and Tung Mines was 1 247,65 tonnes of wolframite concentrate, containing 65 percent WO3.
Bara has offered two scenarios — one for an underground restart at 6 000 to 7 000 tonnes per month.
A combined underground and open pit mining to produce 40 000 tonnes per month was the other alternative, but Premier said it is not considering this option at present.
Re-starting the underground operation will cost $1,06 million, said Bara, with a peak cash requirement of $1,66 million in month four, after which the mine starts to generate cash.
The analysis was based on a net 65 percent of a tungsten price of $300 per tonne.
The current spot price is $275-290 per tonne.
Only 15 months was modelled as the results of drilling underway will determine the future development plans said Premier.
In respect of the development, Premier African Minerals CEO George Roach, Premier said:
“This technical and economic assessment of RHA demonstrates a technically viable restart basis for the project.”
Shallow drilling at RHA, meanwhile, has indicated multiple instances of wolframite at commercial grades plus visible copper mineralisation in the same ore bodies.