W Resources Plc (LON:WRES), the tungsten, tin and gold mining company with assets in Spain and Portugal, has today announced the start of operations at its Régua tungsten mine in Northern Portugal following the release of an updated Régua Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee resource estimate.
· JORC resource estimate update confirms 4.47Mt at 0.27% WO3 with initial mining focused on the higher-grade areas of the orebody close to the surface.
· Operations commence to access and start trial mining of thick high-grade tungsten ore zones
· The process plant will be built on lean capital cost estimate of €1.5m
· Plant configuration includes equipment from La Parrilla tailings plant, spirals from Wolf Minerals Limited and selected new equipment
JORC Resource Estimate
In preparation for the development and mine development work, Golder Associates Pty Ltd (“Golder”) has updated the JORC compliant resource estimates for the project incorporating the results of 10,308m of drilling conducted over the last few years. The previous JORC complaint resource estimates were announced by the Company on 27 October 2015.
The revised JORC resource estimates are set out in the below table:
Régua Mineral Resource as at 30 January 2019 reported at a 0.1% WO3 cut-off grade
|Class||Tonnes (Mt)||WO3 (%)||WO3 metal (kt)|
* NB: Numbers may not add exactly due to rounding.
Golder resources statement is available on the W Resources website: https://wresources.com/projects/regua/
Mining operations will commence in February with the development drives in the first of two and potentially three adits (near horizontal tunnels) to allow W to access and start mining the thick high-grade ore zones and test two different mining methods: room and pillar; and sublevel stoping. Adit mining has been contracted to Empresa Portuguesa de Obras Subterrâneas, S.A. (“EPOS”), a highly experienced Portuguese mining operator.
Ore will be trucked on the newly constructed haul road to the existing crusher plant at the process plant site. A waste landfill will be created in a nearby quarry improving the restoration stage of the benches. A contract for fixed unit cost haulage and crushing was signed in June 2019 with Francisco Pereira Marinho e Irmãos, S.A. (“FPM”).
The development of the Régua trial mine process plant is being delivered on a lean capital basis and will leverage the existing crusher plant, selected equipment from the La Parrilla tailings plant in Spain, including parts of the old concentrator plant, spirals purchased from Wolf Minerals Limited administrators and selected new equipment.
In the initial trial mine operation, high-grade Régua ore will be processed using crushing, mill and spiral equipment to produce an 8-12% WO3 concentrate which will then be trucked to the La Parrilla processing plant for upgrade to 60% WO3 concentrate and purification. This will maximise synergies between La Parrilla and Régua and keep the processing plant capital cost to an estimate of €1.5m. The incremental concentrate tonnage from Régua will boost final La Parrilla concentrate production.
Michael Masterman, Chairman of W Resources commented: “This will be W’s second tungsten mine to come on stream, following the start of production at La Parrilla at the end of last year. It’s great to kick-off mining and development of Régua, where we see significant synergies between La Parrilla and Régua with materially lower capital costs at the Régua plant site and increased La Parrilla final concentrate production.
“The trial mine development of Régua adds significant value to this important Portuguese tungsten mine and de-risks the project while at the same time initiating first Régua tungsten production. The development will have a positive environmental contribution with the progressive rehabilitation of an existing quarry and will create jobs in the northern region of Portugal.
“It was important prior to the commencement of initial trial mine operations to update our resource estimates and it’s pleasing to confirm indicated resources of 3.74m tonnes at 2,800ppm WO3 which is nearly 3-times the grade of the La Parrilla deposit in Spain. The initial 4-6 months of mining will provide the additional information to assess reserve estimates and the results from the trial mine will feed into full mine production. The technical information gained in the trial mine phase will allow us to evaluate if we build a larger scale plant at Régua which will yield costs reductions or alternatively continue with the production of intermediate concentrate production and processing at La Parrilla. Mining operations and associated optimisation will be enhanced through this trial mine phase.”
La Parrilla has continued to increase production going into the New Year with initiative to increase production rates being rapidly implemented and due for completion in February. W Resources has moved to full quarterly production reporting and will provide a full update in April following the close of the March quarter.