Down-dip Development Provides Access To Graphite Resources
Mineral Commodities Ltd (ASX:MRC), through its 90% owned subsidiary Skaland Graphite AS, has commenced accessing the decline of the main Trælen deposit at the Trælen Mine in Norway.
Acting Chief Executive Officer, Russell Tipper, said the first ore face from the newly completed decline was blasted on June10, 2021.
“The commencement of decline mining represents a new chapter in the life of Traelen mining operations, which until now have been following the graphite ore up the mountain,” Mr Tipper said.
“It not only supports continued processing operations at Skaland, but also our exploration and infill drilling program targeting the delivery of an expanded resource base and the first Mineral Reserve Estimate for Traelen in the coming months.
“In parallel, we are progressing metallurgical testwork to support an expansion of production at Skaland with the delivery of a PFS in early Q4. Skaland continues to be a cornerstone of MRC’s strategy for a value-added graphite business”.
The Skaland Graphite Operation is located in northern Norway on the island of Senja. Tromsø is the nearest major town, with a population of around 65,000, some 70km to the northeast. Graphite was first discovered in the area in 1870 and production started in 1917.
Skaland Graphite AS formerly extracted graphite ore from the Skaland mine which is located directly alongside the existing processing and port infrastructure, but since 2007, ore to the plant has been sourced from the nearby Trælen Mine.
MRC took operational control of the Skaland Graphite Operation in October 2019 and, as part of the acquisition, MRC secured permitting tenure for a further 10 years. The operation is owned by Skaland Graphite AS, in which the company holds a 90% interest.
Skaland is the largest flake graphite producer in Europe and the fourth-largest producer globally outside of China. Skaland is presently one of the world’s highest-grade operating flake graphite mines with mill feed grade averaging around 28% C. Skaland accounts for around 2% of global annual natural flake graphite production.
After completing the acquisition of Skaland, the Company has moved quickly to undertake a re-evaluation of the mineral resources in the Trælen Graphite Mine by re-logging, re- sampling and re-assaying of drilling core, to build a 3D block model of the deposit. No previous JORC resource estimation had been undertaken for the Skaland or Trælen deposits.
A maiden JORC Code (2012) compliant resource of 1.78 million tonnes at 22% TGC, using a 10% cut-off, in the categories of Indicated and Inferred containing 397kt of graphite was reported in March 2020 for the Trælen deposit. The Trælen mine delivered 19kt of ore to the processing plant in 2020, which was deducted from the total resource
The company commenced a 3,000m drilling programme in March 2021 to upgrade the current resource and subsequently delivered an Ore Reserve estimate after the drilling programme, which is expected to be completed in August 2021.
MRC’s anode strategy aims to produce natural anode material using low-cost renewable energy and an environmentally friendly purifying technology to capitalise on the fast- growing demand for sustainably manufactured lithium-ion batteries throughout Europe.
Production at Skaland will ramp up from 10,000 tonnes per annum in 2020-2022 towards the 16,000 tonnes per annum limit in 20232, with studies to further expand production underway.
A mining contractor has been engaged for down-dip development at Trælen to access additional known resources at Trælen beneath the already mined out up-dip resources of the deposit, following an initial Life of Mine (“LOM”) based on the 2020 Mineral Resource Statement, targeting resources between levels +5m to -115m (below sea level).
The deposit is open at depth beyond the planned development levels and there are also several promising side lenses that require further drilling. Exploration and infill drilling has commenced to support an updated Mineral Resources Estimate and the first JORC compliant Ore Reserve Statement for Traelen.
Down-dip development waste will be backfilled into the current mining void which will allow safe access to further up-dip resources and eliminate mine waste disposal outside the Trælen mountain. The mining concept is essentially a mirror of the current up-dip mining, changing from bottom-up to top-down progress. The level height will be 20m with ore extraction from the bottom of each level.