Tungsten, tin and gold miner W Resources Plc (AIM:WRES) is ramping up operations to begin mining at its Régua tungsten project in Northern Portugal following the release of an updated Régua Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) resource estimate.
Chairman Michael Masterman said the new JORC resource estimate has confirmed 4.47Mt at 0.27% WO with initial mining focused on the higher-grade areas of the orebody close to the surface.
The updated JORC Resource Estimate was completed by Golder Associates Pty Ltd incorporating the results of 10,308m of drilling conducted over the last few years.
He said the updated figure has given the green light to commence operations this month with trial mining of thick high-grade tungsten ore zones.
Mr Masterman also revealed the company has decided to pursue a lower cost process plant option at a cost estimate of €1.5 million. The plant configuration includes equipment from La Parrilla tailings plant, spirals from Wolf Minerals Limited and selected new equipment
Mining operations will commence with development drives in the first of two and potentially three adits (near horizontal tunnels) to allow W to access and start mining the thick high-grade ore zones and test two different mining methods: room and pillar; and sublevel stoping.
Adit mining has been contracted to Empresa Portuguesa de Obras Subterrâneas, S.A. (EPOS), a highly experienced Portuguese mining operator.
Ore will be trucked on the newly constructed haul road to the existing crusher plant at the process plant site. A waste landfill will be created in a nearby quarry improving the restoration stage of the benches. A contract for fixed unit cost haulage and crushing was signed in June 2019 with Francisco Pereira Marinho e Irmãos, S.A. (FPM).
In the initial trial mine operation, high-grade Régua ore will be processed using crushing, mill and spiral equipment to produce an 8-12% WO3 concentrate which will then be trucked to the La Parrilla processing plant for upgrade to 60% WO3 concentrate and purification. This will maximise synergies between La Parrilla and Régua and keep the processing plant capital cost to an estimate of €1.5m. The incremental concentrate tonnage from Régua will boost final La Parrilla concentrate production.
“This will be W’s second tungsten mine to come on stream, following the start of production at La Parrilla at the end of last year,” Mr Masterman said.
“It’s great to kick-off mining and development of Régua, where we see significant synergies between La Parrilla and Régua with materially lower capital costs at the Régua plant site and increased La Parrilla final concentrate production.
“The trial mine development of Régua adds significant value to this important Portuguese tungsten mine and de-risks the project while at the same time initiating first Régua tungsten production. The development will have a positive environmental contribution with the progressive rehabilitation of an existing quarry and will create jobs in the northern region of Portugal.
“It was important prior to the commencement of initial trial mine operations to update our resource estimates and it’s pleasing to confirm indicated resources of 3.74m tonnes at 2,800ppm WO3 which is nearly 3-times the grade of the La Parrilla deposit in Spain.
“The initial 4-6 months of mining will provide the additional information to assess reserve estimates and the results from the trial mine will feed into full mine production.
“The technical information gained in the trial mine phase will allow us to evaluate if we build a larger scale plant at Régua which will yield costs reductions or alternatively continue with the production of intermediate concentrate production and processing at La Parrilla. Mining operations and associated optimisation will be enhanced through this trial mine phase.”