Monument Mining’s Selinsing Gold project in Malaysia is continuing its transition from oxide ore to sulphide ore production and during this phase production is lower due to the processing of lower grade ores.

Company president and CEO Robert Baldock said, “During the second quarter of fiscal 2016 operations continued to process mainly super low grade ore through the Selinsing Gold Plant.

“Even though the company is able to generate free cash flow to fund operations and business activities, the production gross margin is expected to vary from time to time due to lower grades, lower recovery rates and volatile gold prices.

“Production is anticipated to pick up when the Felda land oxide deposit is put into production and the Intec plant is built successfully. A NI43-101 report is under way to update the Selinsing/Buffalo Reef resources and the life of mine, targeting completion by June 2016.”

He stated: “Monument is continuously looking for high quality gold projects in this market downturn with the objective to bring blue-sky to the company and shareholders.”

FYI signs Laos potash MoU

FYI Resources has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Yuntianhua Group, headquartered in Yunnan, China, for potash project collaboration and potential resource development and production opportunities in Laos.

Yuntianhua, via subsidiary Sino-Lao Mining Development and Investment Co Ltd, majority owns the Sino-Lao potash project about 40km north of Vientiane. This project includes an established trial potash production facility and infrastructure as well as a significant potash deposit.

The MoU proposes a JV to investigate a number of management, ownership and production options for development of the project as well as establishing a strategic value chain of various potash products from the project’s output.

Metal Tiger due diligence advances

Metal Tiger is advancing due diligence concerning a proposal to acquire 90% of South East Asia Mining’s assets in Thailand. The company has confirmed that it is now possible to proceed with the acquisition.

In November Metal Tiger agreed an option deal to acquire 90% of South East Asia Mining. At a meeting on January 12 the proposed transaction was given the go-ahead by South East Asia Mining shareholders and subsequently Metal Tiger says it is moving forward with the deal.

Due diligence work continues and Metal Tiger staff have been on the ground in Thailand to determine the technical and commercial viability of the deal.

Besra Vietnam licensing uncertain

Operations at Besra’s Bong Mieu Gold Project in Vietnam are still on minimal production while the ongoing licensing situation remains uncertain. The Phuoc Son Gold Project is preparing to draw down on local loan funds in preparation for a return to production in the next six months.

The company says incremental progress is being made in Vietnam, however efforts to return to full-scale production are still hampered by drawn out negotiations with local bureaucracy and generally unfavourable and unstable conditions for foreign investors in the resources sector, including a recent 2% increase in the headline gold royalty amount.

Negotiations with tax authorities continue with respect to a restatement of Bong Mieu and Phuoc Son’s tax and royalty situation.

In Malaysia, Besra will return its focus to the Bau property once its proposed financing is concluded. Planning is under way for a 3-year exploration program targeting progressive increases in the existing 3.3 million ounce resource to 4.5 million ounces and beyond.

PHI to acquire LPG company

PHI Group has signed an agreement to acquire 50.90% ownership in Pacific Petro Commercial JSC which is engaged in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) packaging and distribution in southern Vietnam. The exchange calls for a combination of US$2 million in cash and stock in PHI Group to Pacific Petro shareholders.

PHI expects to close the transaction by June 30, 2016 and intends to use Pacific Petro as a platform to consolidate other LPG businesses in South East Asia.

Pacific Petro, the third largest LPG company in southern Vietnam, owns a gas canister manufacturing factory in Ben Cat District, Binh Duong Province and a gas filling plant in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City.

Strong half expected at Chatree

Kingsgate Consolidated expects stronger production from Chatree Gold Project in Thailand in the first half of 2016. The company says scheduled overburden stripping activities will give way to a stronger half with production expected to be at the lower end of the guidance range of 125,000 to 135,000 ounces.

Continuous improvements such as additional shovels, roster changes to achieve higher daily operating hours, maintenance improvements and enhanced silver recoveries are targeted in the second half of 2016.

There were 28,257 ounces of gold poured at Chatree in the December quarter with total cash costs being US$854 per ounce, including a US$100 per ounce royalty. There were also 163,439 ounces of silver poured.

Sustained production at Sepon

Amongst difficult market conditions that have forced widespread production cuts and closures across the industry, MMG’s assets all exceeded production guidance, including the Sepon project in Laos.

Record copper production of 207,528 tonnes was achieved for the group in the December quarter, up 16,221 tonnes or 8% on the same period last year. Strong zinc production of 539,902 tonnes was also recorded despite ramp down at the Century mine in Australia.

The Sepon mine sustained strong performance to deliver 89,253 tonnes of copper cathode in 2015 despite the transition to processing more difficult Type II ore with lower feed grades and recoveries. This figure was 1% higher than 2014.

Overall, MMG expects to produce 415,000-477,000 tonnes of copper and 120,000-135,000 tonnes of zinc in 2016 with the majority of the copper increase from ramp-up of the Las Bambas operation in Peru.