NQ Minerals plc (AQSE:NQMI) Executive Chairman David Lenigas caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the start of surface trenching at Beaconsfield, what this means for the company, completing the final stages of the metallurgical optimisation and the filing of a prospectus to list on the London Standard List stock exchange.
Q1: Great news, I see permission has been granted for the ability to start surface trenching at NQ Minerals’ Beaconsfield mine. David, could you just talk us through the highlights of that?
A1: The Beaconsfield gold mine is one of richest historic gold mines in Australia, from an underground perspective. Two phases of mining, nearly 2 million ounces produced at better than half an ounce to the tonne and at the moment, we’ve got JORC resource of around 500,000 ounces still sitting at the bottom of the mine which we’re working to covert to a reserve statement.
Historically, there were no open cuts at Beaconsfield and very little exploration work at surface and some of the exploration work that has been done, the historic drilling has found vast potential for potential open pit and surface ore at Beaconsfield.
So, we put our applications into the government to start exploring at surface, they’ve been granted, we have a Chief Geologist joining us on site on 1st February and the plan is to start trenching, followed up by drilling to start adding to the JORC resources that exist at Beaconsfield.
Also, the important thing for surface tonnage at Beaconsfield, because most of our resources that exist are at the bottom of the existing Beaconsfield mine, is it’ll be free-milling type gold and it’ll be very good plant feed for the Beaconsfield plant for when we get that up and operational.
So, yes, it’s very exciting and I think retail shareholders, particularly looking at the gold side, would like to see exploration success because people want to buy the dream and Beaconsfield has a big dream ahead of it. Nearly 2 million ounces historically produced, another 500,000 ounces still in ground that’s being drilled up and we expect to increase that resource base quite significantly this year.
Q2: Just talking about the future, what does the resumption of gold exploration mean for the company?
A2: It’s about increasing the resource base and finding additional tonnage that we can put through the Beaconsfield plant whilst we’re putting down the proposed new plant to reconnect the plant with the 500,000 of resource sitting down at the bottom of the Beaconsfield mine.
So, it will add a lot of news releases for shareholders because it’s a big priority for us to increase the resource base at Beaconsfield, it’s very exciting and lots of news throughout the year.
Q3: Now, you’ve announced that the company is completing final stages of the metallurgical optimisation, can you expand on that for us?
A3: The sediments that we’ve already got lined up, which is about 120,000 tonnes from our geologists information at about 3.5g, we just need to work out the best metallurgical process to modify the Beaconsfield plant so we can get good recoveries.
A lot of those bulk samples are sitting with the met labs at the moment and that will give us the definitive systems designs that we need to modify the Beaconsfield plant to put the Beaconsfield into production so we can maximise our gold recovery. There’s quite a lot of profit there and we just want to make sure that we get that profit for when we start the plant up.
Q4: Finally, and quite excitingly really, you recently announced the filing of a prospectus to list on the London Standard List stock exchange. What does that mean for NQ Minerals?
A4: AQUIS has been a great market for the company in getting the job done, as some shareholders will know and some of the market will know that I was appointed to the Board a bit over a year ago. We had a number of objectives set at the time:
- Firstly, to get our Hellyer operations into a very profitable position, that box is ticked,
- The second objective was to restructure the debt that surrounded the security over the Hellyer operations, which is our flagship operation and we achieve d that with ING with a $55 million debt refinancing facility in December so that box is ticked.
- The third box was to seek a listing on a tier one stock exchange and the Board decided in its wisdom that London was the appropriate market for us. People own shares in NQ have got it in CREST, it’s immediately fungible from a broking perspective between AQUIS and an LSE listing and we’ve been working with our lawyers to prepare the prospectus for many many months now and that was filed last week.
So, that’s a very good move for us if we can achieve the listing on the LSE. Importantly, the LSE is going to give us a lot more liquidity in our share price, AQUIS is very short in liquidity, a lot of brokers and investors just don’t trade AQUIS but everybody in the world can trade the LSE.
So, it’s process, hopefully the process won’t take that long but it’s a big objective of ours to get our shares trading on a very liquid exchange and I think if we can achieve an LSE main board listing on the Standard List then we’ll see a lot of increase in liquidity and therefore a lot of interest in what the company is about. We’ve got two very great projects, we’ve also got the nickel and the cobalt that we’re aggressively pursuing and I see a big rerate for the company coming if we can achieve this so it’s pedal to the metal to get that achieved.