Exploration and development firm Premier African Minerals is planning to commence low-cost production at its RHA tungsten project in Zimbabwe during the second half of 2014.
The move from the company follows positive results from recent technical study work at the project, which is located in the Kamativi Tin belt.
Underground mine development is anticipated to commence once openpit production starts in late 2014.
The technical study followed an earlier preliminary economic assessment (PEA) and concept mining report, which revealed the economic viability of the site supporting a low-capital 192,000 tonnes of tungsten-bearing ore operation per year with a six-year mine life.
The study included further optimisation work that had been undertaken by mining consultant Royal Haskoning and a Whittle computer design optimisation on the proposed openpit at the site.
Premier African said the Whittle optimisation indicated a revised lower stripping ratio of 6.2:1, compared with 10:1 previously, and an optimal pit life of about 16 months, from the previous estimate of 12 months.
The company noted that it is in negotiations with potential funders for the project and possible offtake partners as one route to fast-track RHA towards production," Premier said.
The new pit design is anticipated to increase the project’s undiscounted pretax net present value (NPV) to $120m from the previous $118m value.
Premier African Minerals CEO George Roach said, "With a revised NPV of $120m and a significantly increased IRR before tax of 378% now projected, coupled with the low-capex nature of the project with estimated costs of $13.5m, excellent infrastructure, low-strip ratio and a relatively simple processing route anticipated, we approach the next stages of development with confidence."