Myanmar Metals Limited (ASX: MYL) with its partners in the Bawdwin Joint Venture has announced an encouraging update on the Bawdwin project in Myanmar.
The company reported that the Bawdwin Expansion Study has been completed, demonstrating two further open pit cutbacks – beyond the planned Starter Pit – as the preferred way forward.
MYL said that following the Starter Pit, the second and third phases of mining at Bawdwin are expected to be delivered by a further two open-pit cutbacks to finished depths of 270m and 365m respectively.
It may be noted that the Expansion Study supports the Bawdwin Joint Venture’s application for a 50-year production sharing agreement with the Myanmar Government.
The company said that the Expansion Study conclusions prompt an upwards review of plant throughput rates. MYL said that the underground mining remains an option, particularly after the Phase 2 cutback.
The Bawdwin project is located in the Shan State of Myanmar and is strategically well positioned to access to some of the world’s largest smelters in China.
The company holds a majority 51% participating interest in the Bawdwin Project in joint venture with its two local project partners, Win Myint Mo Industries Co. Ltd. (WMM) and EAP Global Co. Ltd. (EAP).
The Bawdwin Joint Venture (BJV) intends to redevelop the world class Bawdwin Mineral Field, held under a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) between WMM and Mining Enterprise No. 1, a Myanmar Government business entity within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.
The Bawdwin project is planned to be delivered in three phases, phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3, to optimise mine operating performance and minimise capital and operating costs.
Phase 1, the Starter Pit, focused on the mining operations on the central China Lode. The PFS was completed in May 2019.
Bawdwin Expansion Study completed
MYL said that mining consultant Cube Consulting Pty Ltd was appointed to undertake an assessment of the optimal mining method at Bawdwin to follow the Phase 1 Starter Pit.
The Expansion Study underpined phases 2 and 3 of mining operations at Bawdwin and assessed the optimal mining method for targeting the remaining Mineral Resources. The company has now announced the completion of the Bawdwin Expansion Study.
MYL said that 53% of the Mineral Resources contained within the Expansion Study optimisation shells are drawn from the Inferred Mineral Resource category as detailed in the Resource Update ASX Announcement dated 18 August 2019.
Encouraging update from Expansion Study
The company has now announced the conclusions from the Expansion Study.
The Expansion Study concluded that underground mining at Bawdwin is possible, based on the study assumptions, however, two further open pit cutbacks beyond the Starter Pit, namely Phases 2 and 3 offer potential for superior outcomes relative to underground mining.
The Expansion Study also suggested that an interim step, occurring between Phases 1 and 2, involving small scale underground mining and exploration drilling from the floor of the Starter Pit could assist decision making on whether to proceed with Phase 3 as an open-pit cutback or, instead, with Phase 3 as an underground mine.
Expansion Study results to have broader implications
The company said that the results of the Expansion Study have broader implications for the project than a change in mining methods.
It may be noted that a processing plant size of 2 million tonnes per annum was selected in the PFS for phase 1, based on the view it would be well suited to manage the transition from higher volume, moderate grade mineral feed from the open-pit mine to lower volume, higher grade mineral feed from underground mines.
The results of the Expansion Study, which support an expansion of the open-pit mine, have prompted the BJV to re-evaluate the plant throughput and assess whether the plant throughput capacity can be increased.
Chairman and CEO John Lamb said: “The Expansion Study is our roadmap for mining at Bawdwin after the 13-year Starter Pit and it demonstrates to stakeholders that there is plenty more value within the declared Mineral Resources of Bawdwin, and a greatly extended life. The Expansion Study underpins the BJV’s recent application to the Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) for a 50-year mining term in the production sharing agreement.”
He added: “Bawdwin is a long-life mining project and we plan to maximise value for stakeholders over the mine’s life. To achieve this, good operational and site infrastructure decisions should be made upfront and the Expansion Study, together with other technical studies, provide us with the foundation for making those decisions.”