Group 6 December average Dolphin head grade ‘significantly higher’

Group 6 Metals (ASX:G6M) reports in December 2023 the average head grade mined at its flagship Dolphin Tungsten Mine (DTM) increased to 0.74% WO3, ‘significantly higher’ than forecast.

Group 6 Metals Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Keith McKnight says during the December 2023 quarter, the DTM site team achieved encouraging improvements in both mining and process plant operations.

The head grade from the mine improved significantly as mining moved through transition areas to the main ore body.

“Steady supply of higher-grade ore significantly above that predicted in the geological model is enhancing the process plant production as the team continues to focus on plant throughput and recovery.

The team remains focused on delivering stable economic production by April 2024. Optimisation of the mine plan has identified opportunities to accelerate the extraction of ultra-high-grade open cut ore, while lowering overall material movement.

We are looking forward to 2024 with a great optimism as we seek to achieve positive cashflows and unlock the full potential of this exceptional high-grade ore body. We enjoyed a strong safety record during construction and initial ramp-up at the Dolphin Mine, achieving 668 days LTI Free.

However, we deeply regret experiencing two lost-time injuries in the past quarter. While our people have resumed normal duties, these incidents serve as a stark reminder that we must remain ever vigilant when performing activities on the mine site. The safety of our people must be our top priority as we continue ramping up Dolphin Mine operations.”

During the quarter, the company delivered a notable improvement in tungsten production at the DTM, achieving an increasing production rate from higher-grade ore over the course of the period.

Despite a shorter operating month due to an unscheduled maintenance shutdown on the 22 December, the process plant produced 61.3 tonnes of concentrate at 58% WO3, which is equivalent to November 2023 production and is in line with forecast.

The period included a new daily ore processing record, with more than 1,000 tonnes of high-grade ore over 24 hours in early December 2023. Group 6 says this achievement represented DTM’s steady climb towards its nameplate production capacity.

This equates to an hourly throughput of 44tph or 73% of the design nameplate capacity.

“This accomplishment reflects the ongoing optimisation efforts of the site team and underscores the plant’s improving performance. Plant utilisation improved from 40% at the beginning of the quarter to 70% at the end of the quarter, reflecting the increasing knowledge of the plant operators,” the company adds.

As processing capabilities continue to improve, the DTM is well-positioned to consistently deliver larger volumes in the future, solidifying its role as a reliable supplier of tungsten concentrate.

Group 6 says the focus of the process plant team is improving recovery, primarily influenced by head grade, but also a factor of continuous operation and optimising equipment performance.

Metallurgical survey of the individual equipment performance was carried out during the quarter and the findings have identified areas for immediate improvement over the first quarter of 2024.

An optimised near-term mine plan, specifically targeting the high-grade ore body and reducing overall material movements, is forecast to steadily increase head grade to an average of 1.1% WO3 by June 2024.

In December the average head grade mined increased to 0.74% WO3 which is significantly higher than forecast.

During the past quarter, Group 6 received a bridge finance facility of a total of $8 million from its four major shareholders to support the company’s cashflow as production ramps up at the Dolphin Tungsten Mine.

The company secured the Bridge Finance facility at an important time as the site team worked through the initial challenges encountered by lower-than-expected plant utilisation through the September quarter, impacting average monthly production.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Group 6 Metals
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.