Metro Mining Limited (ASX:MMI) intends to expand bauxite production by 17% at its Bauxite Hills project in Far North Queensland to 3.5 million wet metric tonnes (wmt) during 2019.
In its half-year report for the period ending December 31, 2018, the company said it had decided to implement a series of low-cost operational improvements and upgrade initiatives to carry out the expansion.
Long lead-time items have been ordered and works have begun to implement the changes required to meet the expanded production forecast.
Most on-site work is taking place during the wet season shutdown and will not impact the planned re-commencement of operations in April 2019 at the start of the dry season.
Much of the existing plant and infrastructure at Bauxite Hills has been designed to accommodate higher production levels so the initiatives to incrementally increase production are easy to implement and low-cost.
Many of these initiatives were part of the long-term stage II expansion to 6 million wmt.
Jaw crusher commissioned
A jaw crusher was installed and commissioned in late 2018 as part of the improvement and expansion initiative.
This provides considerable benefit as oversized material can be processed after screening, thus reducing stockpiling requirements at the port and improving quality management systems.
27 vessels loaded in six months
During the six months to December 31, 27 vessels were loaded containing 1.646 million wmt of bauxite, with the final 2018 vessel shipped to customers on December 28.
The company’s 2018 marketing program was successful with all production sold into the Chinese market and around 75% of 2019 production committed to customers.
The product was well accepted in China with sales being made to five separate customers and with growing demand for the group’s bauxite from existing and potential new customers.
Metro is seeing particularly strong demand from refineries in inland Chinese provinces where supply has been hindered by recent mine closures and environmental audits.
A drilling program around the bauxite hills mine area was completed during the six months on a 160-metre by 160-metre grid, comprising 221 holes for a total of 893 metres.
Assays are expected during the March quarter of 2019 and will form the basis of an updated resource and reserve statement.
- Jessica Cummins