Avenira has started mining activities at its Baobab phosphate project in Senegal, with first production expected during the second half of this year.

The project is expected to produce 500,000t per annum of phosphate concentrate during stage 1 operation, with total capital expenditure to production to be $15m.

Avenira managing director and CEO Cliff Lawrenson said: "It is very pleasing to see the Baobab Phosphate Project development advancing rapidly.

"The project is fully funded to production, while separately Avenira retains cash reserves allowing the company to proceed with development beyond Stage 1 of the project."

"Avenira retains cash reserves, allowing it to proceed with development beyond Stage 1 of the project."

Mine and process plant access roads have been completed and the open-pit ramp, site infrastructure are also being established.

Avenira has engaged Germany-based Bauer Resources Senegal to drill and install two water bores for the project, which will be used to process the phosphate ore.

The first of two 500m-deep water bores have already drilled, with drilling for the second planned to take place shortly.

Mining contractor Agromines has completed top soil clearing of the first stage of the open-pit, and South Africa-based engineering group Consulmet is progressing with the fixed-price design and construction of the modular wet screening plant for the project.

The plant will be fabricated in Johannesburg and later transported to the site for final erection and installation.

Avenira acquired the Baobab project in September 2015, then gained final environmental approval and completed further drilling activity to upgrade the project resource.

Image: Stage 1 open-pit access ramp establishment in progress. Photo: courtesy of Avenira Limited.