Trojan resumes nickel exports

HARARE - London-listed junior resources miner Mwana Africa Limited (Mwana) has dispatched the first nickel concentrate shipment from its Zimbabwe-based Trojan Nickel (Trojan) mine.

Trojan — put under care and maintenance in 2008 due to viability challenges — restarted operations last year.

The timing of the shipment was in line with previous guidance where Mwana indicated that it will ship at least 7 000 tonnes of nickel concentrate per annum to Swiss-headquartered global commodities giant, Glencore International (Glencore).

Following the refurbishment of the surface milling, flotation, tailings and concentrate handling facilities, hot commissioning has been successfully completed and the first shipment of nickel concentrate was trucked from the Trojan Mine to Durban.

Trojan is a subsidiary of Mwana’s Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC).

“This marks a major milestone in our strategy to bring our nickel assets out of care and maintenance and back into production. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the BNC staff, and to all those who have supported Mwana and BNC, for their contribution to this achievement,” said Kalaa Mpinga, Mwana’s chief executive officer.

Mwana owns a 52,9 percent stake in BNC, the only fully-integrated nickel operation in Africa.

The shipment takes place under the terms of the previously announced off-take agreement between Glencore and BNC.

In 2011, BNC signed an off-take agreement with Glencore, one of the world’s leading integrated producers and marketers of commodities, to cover all nickel concentrate to be produced at the restart of Trojan.

Under the deal, BNC will sell all nickel concentrate produced at Trojan to Glencore until the BNC smelter and refinery are restarted.

Glencore will pay BNC a London Metal Exchange-linked price on agreed terms for final contained nickel.

Mwana noted that the processing plant is now producing concentrate of saleable quantity and quality and the remainder of the commissioning activities during the year will focus on increasing throughput and improving recoveries.

Mining experts contend that this first shipment of concentrate from the Trojan Mine marks a major milestone in the restoration of the company’s nickel assets, following a four-year period of care and maintenance.

The pan-African mining conglomerate recently announced that its nickel resource at Trojan Mine increased 152 percent after further exploration and drilling.

Mpinga said the results of the drilling clearly demonstrate the longevity of the deposit.

“These results follow the impressive progress made underground and on the surface plant rehabilitation programme and confirms our belief in the restart of operations at Trojan and bodes well for the future of BNC,” he said.

This means that the overall grade resource increased to 1,51 percent from 1,29 percent.

Bindura’s Nickel resource at Trojan is a massive sulphide ore-body lying along basalts which comprise the mine’s footwall. The Nickel is disseminated within the ultra-mafic host rock.

As such, the main type of extractable Nickel is found as interstitial and inter-granular primary magmatic sulphides, consisting of pentlandite, pyrrhotite and possible minor pyrit and rare traces of chalcopyrite.

The Trojan mine has been mined down to the 37 level, although the main shaft has been sunk to the 47 level.

Management estimates that there is sufficient resource to support mining for approximately 4,5 years above 37 level (JORC compliant) and then for a further 10 years (non-JORC compliant) between the 37 and 47 levels.

Mwana is a multi-commodity mining and development company whose principal operations and exploration activities cover gold, nickel, copper and diamonds in Zimbabwe, the DRC and South Africa. - John Kachembere

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