Metro Mining (ASX:MMI) has almost doubled its cash at hand to $20.2 million over the past quarter, during a period in which it delivered record shipments of 1.3 million wet metric tonnes from its Bauxite Hills Mine in Queensland.
The company’s Q2 2023 cash balance was up from $11.6 million from the end of the March quarter.
Speaking to Mining.com.au, Metro Mining Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director Simon Wensley says over Q1 2023, the company negotiated additional debt funding to provide the capital to underpin the final parts of the investment in the expansion project.
In the March quarter, Metro entered an agreement with Nebari Natural Resources Credit Fund I, LP and Nebari Natural Resources Credit Fund II, LP, for a financing facility of US$20 million ($30 million) with a second tranche of US$10 million available subject to meeting certain conditions precedent.
The CEO says: “We drew that down in 2 tranches. One in March and then the other one we drew down during the last quarter. So there was an element of additional cash arising from the drawdown, but there was also increased cash flow from operations.”
During the June quarter, it had a cape size vessel turnaround of 11 days, compared to 13 days during Q4 2022, which resulted in shipments of 1.3 million WMT – 27% above budget.
Wensley says Q2 2023 has been a ‘positive’ start for the company and its Bauxite Hills production, with a 49% shipped volume improvement year-on-year, and 9% improvement compared to Q4 2022.
In the company’s latest quarterly report, the $109.13 million market capitalisation company states production and shipping ramped up during April, resulting in consistent output and productivity records.
“It’s the fruit of a lot of hard work over the last 6 to 9 months to get the operation turned around and back into good shape”
“It’s the fruit of a lot of hard work over the last 6 to 9 months to get the operation turned around and back into good shape. It means we’re back to cash flow positive, significantly, above budget, and sets us up for a good year,” Wensley says.
Further, Metro’s CEO says the company is anticipating another record shipment in Q3 2023, with a plan to do around 1.7 to 1.8 million tonnes, as part of its transition towards the expansion.
“We’re stepping up in Q3 and Q4 this year, and then our fully expanded capacity should be available in 2024.”
The company’s expansion project is on schedule, with the new mobile fleet being commissioned and is planned to be fully operational in August. Metro says this will supplement expanded fixed plant throughput for loading an additional 200 WMT/month through geared vessels.
Metro continues to target 2023 sales of 4.5 to 5Mt. The final investment decision (FID) for the proposed 7 million WMT per annum expansion was achieved and is fully funded with the conditions precedent met to allow Metro to draw the final $15 million tranche of the $45 million Nebari facility.
Meanwhile, Metro is continuing to engage with its current and prospective customers through technical and commercial exchanges and has agreed offtake agreements for up to 5 million tonnes for 2023 and 6 million tonnes for 2024.
The company notes the offshore floating terminal has undergone thorough assessment and is now en-route to a shipyard in China for dry-docking and servicing for delivery in Q4 2023.
As the company progresses through the year, Wensley says Metro is expecting to expand tonnes and lower costs
“I think there’s still going to be an edge up in the pricing environment. So overall, I think it’s a pretty positive outlook as we transition over the next 2 quarters towards our 2024 fully expanded rate,” he adds .
Metro Mining is an ASX-listed mining and exploration company based in Queensland, Australia. The company’s flagship Bauxite Hills Mine is located near Cape York, North Queensland. It is a single-operating mine combining 2 environmental authorities covering the Bauxite Hills and Skardon River tenements.
Images: Metro Mining Ltd