Drilling by Amur Minerals Corporation at Kun-Manie in Russia’s far east has returned the largest intersection to date at the nickel sulphide project. The most eastern hole in the current program has returned 76.4 metres averaging 0.93% nickel and 0.21% copper.
The company began the program in May and as at the end of July had drilled out 13,142 metres with just over 6000 metres at the Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky deposit area and 7136 metres at the Kubuk area. It accounts for around 65% of the planned program, which is designed to expand the project.
Using a cut-off grade of 0.4% nickel and a minimum thickness of three metres, it’s apparent that two large continuous blocks of mineralisation have been identified along the drilled portion of the Ikenskoe target.
The first block is approximately 500 metres in strike length with a width of up to 400 metres. The second block has an approximate length of 700 metres and has been drilled by a single row of holes.
The average grades of the newly defined blocks of mineralisation are substantially higher than the average grades of the Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky resource estimate, where the nickel grade is estimated to be 0.69% nickel and 0.17% copper.
Amur chief executive Robin Young said, “With grades of 0.93% nickel and 0.21% copper, the latest discovery is nearly 76 metres thick. Located at the east end of this newly discovered block, it is only 1150 metres from the Kubuk deposit.
“Resource expansion drilling at Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky has reaped substantial benefits since mid-May of this year. We have already discovered two new mineralised blocks along the 2800 metre-long target between Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky and Kubuk.
“Having drilled about 1600 metres of the target length from the Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky resource model limit, drilling indicates both blocks average in excess of 0.9% nickel and 0.2% copper at average thicknesses of more than 35 metres. These thicknesses are suitable for underground mining.
“The mineral limits remain open at both blocks with substantial expansion potential in the dip direction and eastward toward Kubuk. With infill drilling, these two blocks could substantially impact the project economics due to the higher than historically drilled grades.”
Amur recently revealed the results of independently calculated cost estimates for the Kun-Manie project. RPMGlobal Asia Limited used a first principles approach to estimate the costs of open pit and underground mining, processing, all other site related costs and the cost of concentrate transport to the Ulak rail station.
All told, these estimates have been used by Amur to derive a projected average operating cost for Kun-Manie of US$1.78 per pound of nickel delivered to the Ulak station.
The RPM results are based on Q2 2017 costs and quotes presently in place and/or available to Amur’s wholly-owned local subsidiary.
The average cost per pound of nickel delivered in concentrate form to the Ulak station does not presently include consideration of smelter terms, recoveries, charges, payable terms and royalties.
These have been specifically excluded until mining tonnages and grades are established based on the RPM costs and trade off studies can be implemented with regard to off-take agreement terms and a company-owned treatment facility at Ulak.
Robin Young said, “On multiple levels it is encouraging that RPM’s operating costs indicate $1.78 for only nickel to deliver a pound of recovered nickel in concentrate to our planned rail station. In Q1 2015, our internally derived operating cost was projected to be about $26 which is very similar to the newly defined Q2 2017 based RPM cost of $24 per ore tonne.
“Using today’s nickel price of approximately $4.00 a pound, our projected breakeven cut-off grades are lower than the cut-off grade at which we report JORC mineral resources. This means nearly all of our reported resource is available in the determination of mining tonnages and grades.
“We therefore believe that we have a highly robust resource capable of supporting a long-term operation at the current low price of nickel. The breakeven operating cut-off grade will likely be reduced with the inclusion of any payable revenues derived from the excluded by-product value derived from copper, cobalt, platinum and palladium.
“We believe we have added an additional safeguard to our evaluation of the economic potential of Kun-Manie by this highly conservative approach and the exclusion of any resources below a 0.4% cut-off grade.”