NQ Minerals Plc (NEX:NQMI), the base and precious metals producer from its flagship Hellyer Gold Mine in Tasmania Australia, has today announced excellent production levels of base metals concentrate were achieved for the First Quarter ending 31 March 2020. Hellyer’s lead concentrate production for the Quarter totalled 8,127 tonnes and 4,609 tonnes of zinc concentrate. Refer to Table 1.
In addition, NQ highlights that a total of 1,081 ounces of gold and 230,441 ounces of silver were produced as a payable precious metal credits in the lead and zinc concentrate streams for the Quarter.
Hellyer started implementing programmes to increase plant throughput during the Quarter, with a systematic increase in average production rate from 110 tonnes per hour to 122 tonnes per hour by Quarter end. Further production rate increases are planned during Q2.
Hellyer has now produced 37,098 tonnes of lead concentrates and 27,192 tonnes of zinc concentrates since the mine started operations in September 2018, and has generated approximately A$58 million in gross revenues from start-up to the end of Q4 2019. Unaudited financial results for Hellyer Gold Mines Ltd for Q1 2020 will be announced shortly.
David Lenigas, Chairman of NQ Minerals, commented:
“Operations at NQ’s Hellyer operations have performed extremely well this Quarter, especially considering the current global COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for people, governments and businesses worldwide. The Tasmanian Government responded quickly to the virus and was the first State in Australian to limit any travel to its island State and has implemented strict controls within the state. Confirmed COVID-19 infections in the State remain low.
“Fortuitously, Hellyer is currently regarded by the Tasmanian Government as an essential business during this critical period. While Hellyer has implemented tightened control measures in respect to employee health and safety, mining and processing activities continue as normal as can be hoped for in these uncertain times. None of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and the actions we are taking represent our best judgement, based on what we know today. As always, the safety of our employees is our top priority.
“With respect to operations for the Quarter, Hellyer has successfully implemented a number of steps to increase production rates by 10% to an average of 122 tonnes per hour. These actions are part of a systematic effort to raise overall production rates to 1.2 million tonnes per year. The base metals market has been under pressure due to the COVID-19 situation, however Hellyer is seeing a number of positives with USD vs AUD exchange rate moves during the period and a near 20% rise in the Australian gold price increase to A$2,620 per ounce. China appears, on the face of it, to be through the worse of the Coronavirus lockdowns and NQ is hopeful for an increase in base metal demand as China gets back to work. To this point, we are pleased that another 28,000 tonnes of Hellyer concentrates has been dispatched from the Port of Burnie on 3 April.”
Table 1: Hellyer Operations – Production Performance for Q1 2020.
|Processed tonnes:||225,764 tonnes|
|· Lead grade %||2.80%|
|· Zinc Grade %||2.18%|
|· Gold Grade||2.38 grams/tonne (“g/t”)|
|· Silver Grade||86 g/t|
|Lead Concentrates Produced||8,127 tonnes|
|· Lead Recovery %||48.02%|
|· Lead %||37.41%|
|· Gold grade||4.14 g/t|
|· Gold produced1||1,081 ounces|
|· Silver grade||786 g/t|
|· Silver produced1||205,396 ounces|
|Zinc Concentrates Produced||4,609 tonnes|
|· Zinc Recovery %||42.54%|
|· Zinc Grade %||45.51%|
|· Silver grade||169 g/t|
|· Silver produced2||24,045 ounces|
Note1: Gold and silver credits are payable in lead concentrates.
Note2: Silver credits are payable in zinc concentrates.
Hellyer’s COVID-19 Response Plan:
The Tasmanian Government has implemented a strict lockdown across the State to control the spread of COVID-19 and the Company is working strictly to the protocols put in place by the Government. We will review and adjust our business continuity measures as the situation evolves and we will continue to be guided by the latest advice from medical and government authorities.
The mining industry in Tasmania has been classed as an essential service, and as such mining and processing operations at Hellyer continue. NQ and Hellyer management have been in recent conversation with senior Government officers about current and potential needs in the current context.
The Port of Burnie continues to operate, with a shipment of 28,000 tonnes of Hellyer’s lead and pyrite concentrates was loaded between 29 March – 3 April.
At the present time there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Hellyer operations. In response to the health risks associated with COVID-19, Hellyer has implemented a series of health and safety protocols on a company-wide basis. At the operational level, site-level controls currently in place and/or being introduced include medical screening of all individuals prior to entering site, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices, social distancing of workers, increased reliance on the use of technology such as hosting of virtual meetings, work from home policies and the suspension of all non-essential work at, and visits to, the Company’s mine site.