Manuka making inroads to secure processing plant

Manuka Resources (ASX:MKR) is in negotiations to secure a process plant to transition to on-site processing and optimise production at its Mt Boppy Gold Mine in the Cobar Basin, New South Wales.  

Manuka, which has a $54.43 million market capitalisation, anticipates the capital cost of the 200,000 tonne per annum on-site processing facility to be around $10 to $15 million and will be installed, commissioned, and producing gold dore by Q4 2024.  

Mt Boppy includes an existing 48-person mining camp, power and water, an administration and exploration office, and is permitted for the processing plant and on-site production.  

The mine has historically produced around 500,000 ounces of gold at 15 grams per tonne (g/t), making it “one of the richest gold mines in New South Wales,” Executive Chairman Dennis Karp says. 

To date, ore has been trucked to and processed through the 850,000 tonne per annum plant at the company’s Wonawinta Silver Mine, previously Australia’s largest primary silver producer, about 150km south of Mt Boppy. 

However, weather conditions posed challenges for processing and trucking in November and December 2023, which resulted in production lagging expectations.

Manuka previously reported December quarter production of 69,751 tonnes at an average grade of 1.53g/t, which was down 10% from the September quarter. 

Manuka says the new facility is being proposed following a sonic drilling program over gold-bearing rock dumps and tailings at Mt Boppy in December. 

The company believes the crush-screen-mill-float-intensive cyanidation facility will materially enhance the economics of the project.

Karp says the savings in ore haulage alone will be in the order of $6 to $7 million per year.

“Since acquiring Mt Boppy in June 2019, production performance has largely exceeded our initial forecasts, notwithstanding the fact that we have processed Mt Boppy ore through the Wonawinta processing plant.

The step-change in cost base supports a robust business case for the continued near-term processing of gold bearing rock dumps and tailings and deliver cashflows to fund aggressive brownfields exploration at Mt Boppy and at near-mine prospects such as Pipeline Ridge.”

Meanwhile, , an updated reserve and production plan for Wonawinta — which is currently on care and maintenance — is targeted for release in May this year. The company is reviewing the potential of recommencing operations at Wonawinta, taking advantage of the strengthening silver price environment.

These potential milestones come at a time of ‘buoyant’ gold and silver markets, which Karp says has the company “excited by the immediate opportunity to re-establish ourselves as an ASX precious metals producer in the Cobar Basin”.

Manuka is also progressing the development of its Taranaki VTM Iron Sands Project in New Zealand in parallel with the Cobar Basin activities.

Manuka Resources is an explorer with gold and silver assets in the Cobar Basin, New South Wales, as well as offshore vanadium-bearing iron sands in the South Taranaki Bight of New Zealand.  

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Manuka
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.