Amur Minerals Corporation (AMC) is a rapidly-growing mineral resource exploration and development company focused on base metal projects located in the far east of Russia. The Company has three properties in the region with its principal asset being the Kun-Manie sulphide nickel, copper project located in Amur Oblast. With a JORC compliant resource of over a quarter of a million tons of contained nickel, Kun-Manie is one of the five largest new nickel sulphide discoveries since Voisey’s Bay.
The company submitted its initial application for a mining licence more than two years ago.
With a glance at the chart you can see the pattern of trading that has slowly eroded the value of the AIM quoted firm’s shares since then – though this is not unlike many listed junior resource companies.
Speaking to Proactive Investors, Young said the company has strong support from the local government and state agencies and they are ‘very much’ in favour of what the company is planning.
But as nickel is considered a strategic resource in Russia, this means the sign off has to come from Moscow - and as such it is a deeply bureaucratic process.
A decision has yet to be made by the Russian authorities and this has clearly been a source of frustration for management and investors alike.
But there is one important point that’s being overlooked and that even if Amur receives the licence tomorrow it is has a great deal of work to undertake to bring the project into production.
So while the company works on obtaining the mining licence, the firm’s immediate focus continues on the planning and completion of the numerous tasks allowing Amur to advance the project in the area of operational planning and design.
“You have to take a look at the overall plan for Kun Manie and consider what is required to build a project like this,” Young said.
“There is a great deal of engineering work and metallurgical optimisation that remains to be completed. We have to continue with road and power designs. There are applications for permits for things like timber, stream access, water rights and other related considerations that we can and are working on even now.
“None of that requires us to have a mining licence. So we are advancing the project on a daily basis to bring forward the ‘production decision’ date”.
“There is a lot of progress being made, we are not just standing back with nothing to do while we wait for the licence.”
Young says that Amur is advancing the Kun Manie project wherever it can while waiting for the award of the mining licence.
In the meantime and as the permitting process continues, Amur’s team of geologists continue to add value to the project by completing another exploration field season.
Most of the drilling is being conducted within the area covered by the mining licence application and the team is also carrying out additional work programmes across the broader exploration area.
“We are well into this year’s field season - we’re drilling, trenching, conducting surface geophysics, geological mapping and sampling.
“In particular we are focussing on the area defined within our licence application. We are drilling geological and geophysical structures defined by previous exploration results and anticipate that we will successfully identify substantial nickel and copper within those structures.”
Young also explains that all the areas currently being assessed may all be within the same large structure, and that the division and separate naming of the targets is a function of the guidelines set by the Russian authorities.
In essence, Amur treats these apparently separate areas as one single project rather than a scattered group of satellite deposits. And these areas have actually been indicated to be the same mineralised deposit, Young explained.
Given the busy schedule, Amur expects to have a number of exploration updates in the coming months, and Young says there will be revised resource estimates, mine plans and designs off the back of these results.
And he expects there will be more to come beyond the current field season too.
“The size of the exploration results has always provided us with additional exploration targets.
"There is always more exploration to do. And we don’t see an end to the success we have experienced thus far with our exploration efforts. Each field season has resulted in our definition of additional prospects that require drilling.
“By way of exploration and engineering planning and design work, we’ll keep advancing Kun Manie for the foreseeable future.”