Grade boost caps off a great year for Image Resources
Mid-tier mineral sands miner, Image Resources, has added another dimension to its zircon-rich, Boonanarring mineral sands mine in WA after it significantly boosted the heavy minerals grade at the project, capping off an uber-successful year for the Perth miner. Recent work has seen the grade jump from 7.2% to 8.9% at Boonanarring and the company also increased both the project’s zircon content from 22.7% to 27.5% and its in-situ zircon grade from 1.6% to 2.4%.
The original 7.2% grade was outlined in Image’s 2017 work with that figure now looking like a distant memory after recent exploratory work.
The new work represents a 24% increase in the total heavy metal or “THM” grade and a 50% leap in the in-situ zircon content at the project.
Image now has total reserves of 10.7 million tonnes at 8.9% THM with 27.5% reporting as zircon, 2.5% rutile, 3.2% leucoxene and 46% ilmenite, effectively making it one of Australia’s leading mid-tier mineral sands mines.
According to Image, the revised THM ore grade and significantly higher in-situ zircon content should mean Boonanarring will enjoy increased heavy mineral concentrates, or “HMC” production over the next three years.
Total forecast production from 2020 to 2022 is now estimated at 830,000t HMC compared to the 2017 bankable feasibility study forecast, which was updated in July 2018, to 740,000t of HMC over the same period.
Commercial production at Boonanarring, which is located around 100 kilometres north of Perth, started in December last year and by the second quarter of 2019, it had already become cash flow positive.
Despite this early success, Image refused to rest on its laurels, increasing its exploration activities during the September quarter with the aim of expanding the project’s current three-year minimum mine life.
In addition to sizing up the nearby Alas project, which for the time being should add another three years to the operation’s life, Image recently found a new mineralised shoreline to the immediate west of Boonanarring, which has a potential length of up to 40km. Importantly, the northern half of this discovery is located within economic distance of the company’s wet concentration plant.
Image has also identified a substantial potential expansion of the Boonanarring deposit directly to its the north and south.
This prospective high-grade shoreline, which starts at the company’s Red Gully project in the north, runs through the 9km long Boonanarring deposit and ends at Image’s Gingin North project.
Image Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mutz said: “The increase in ore grade, and in particular the significantly higher in-situ zircon grade from the new ore reserve, reaffirms Boonanarring as one of the highest grade, zircon-rich mineral sand projects in Australia.”
Image has been almost a textbook success story this year with the Perth company building and commissioning its mineral sands mine in WA well within acceptable time limits and budgets.
In an industry where something almost always goes wrong, Image has managed to tread lightly this year and get its plant up and running and profitable within a remarkable time frame with almost nothing going wrong and everything going right – a scenario that is typically only reserved for the DFS and the forward cash flow projection but rarely in real life.
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