Kombat mine records operating profit

Canadian company Trigon Metals Inc. which has restarted mining at the Kombat copper mine in central Namibia, has announced an operating profit of US$581 518 (N$11 million) for the three months and US$474 722 (N$9 million) for the nine months ending 31 December 2023.

According to a statement issued by the company’s chief executive Jed Richardson on 28 February, the net losses for the three months of US$8,09 million and US$14,9 million for the nine months ending 31 December 2023, were primarily as a result of the non-cash accretion of advances and depreciation of property plant and equipment of US$7,65 million for the three months and US$12,40 million for the nine months ending 31 December 2023.

Richardson said the reduced net operational cash outflows of US$2,55 million for the nine months against US$5,55 million for the nine months ending 31 December 2022 attests to management’s emphasis on operational cost control measures implemented pre-production and during the commissioning process.

“Following the declaration of commercial production in October 2023, the initial month showcased robust performance in both tonnage and ore grade extracted from Kombat’s open pit operations.

“However, challenges in contractor equipment availability affected production in November, subsequently resolved in December. Efforts to recover lost production exposed weaknesses in our grade control protocol, resulting in lower grades mined in both November and December,” Richardson said.

For the quarter, 81 479 tonnes of ore were processed at an average grade of 0,95% copper, falling short of the planned 87 000 tonnes at 1,2% copper, Richardson added.

While direct mining and processing costs were well managed, C1 unit cash costs were higher than forecast at US$3,96 per pound (lb) of total copper lbs produced, compared to the planned US$3,37/lb in cash operating costs. C1 costs are non-IFRS measure that include the cost of mining, milling, site level general and administrative expenses, and royalties, but exclude capital costs, exploration costs and corporate overheads.

Mining has moved to the long-lived ore capping pit, increasing access to higher-grade portions of the deposit. Additional high-grade ore is now being provided with the commencement of underground mining.

Mining training for underground operations commenced in January 2024, with production results expected in the fourth quarter of 2024.

The upcoming 12 months mark a pivotal period as Kombat’s underground operations resume after a 17-year hiatus in care and maintenance. To manage restart risks and ensure a high-grade product for the plant, Trigon has reviewed its strategy, mine planning and capital for both open-pit and underground operations.

Progress in dewatering the Asis West mine’s two shafts is substantial, with the first planned mining shaft currently dewatered down to 250 metres from the collar to the eighth level. Accelerated underground mining will access higher-grade ore, with production ramping up to 15 000 tonnes per month (ktpm) of high-grade ore in the first quarter of 2025.

“This shift displaces 15ktpm of lower-grade open pit ore, maintaining an aggregate ore production of 30ktpm, enhancing overall production quality and thus margin and cash flow,” said Richardson.

Given these developments, Trigon has decided to postpone the expansion of its processing plant capacity from 30ktpm to 60ktpm, originally planned for 2024 to 2025 to allow the underground operations to establish a performance track record and be ramped up to a steady state of 30ktpm, ensuring a prudent and informed expansion timeline. – email: matthew@namibian.com.na

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