Metro Mining Limited (ASX:MMI) has recommenced mining at the Bauxite Hills project in Far North Queensland following the wet season and is expected to build on the success of its first operational year in 2018.
The company is helping meet increased demand from China for bauxite with imports tipped to increase to around 90 million tonnes this year, up from 82 million tonnes last year.
A ship was due at the dock today for the company’s first 2019 shipment to China.
Managing director Simon Finnis told investors at this week’s Proactive CEO Sessions in Sydney and Melbourne that the company was increasing annual output to 3.5 million wet metric tonnes (wmt) this year.
This process would be facilitated by the company reverting to in-house mining along with a series of low-cost operational improvements and upgrading initiatives.
A jaw crusher was installed and commissioned in late 2018 as part of this 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.
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.
Finnis said the company was also working on a DFS for the potential stage II expansion of annual production to 6 million tonnes by 2021 with completion expected in mid-2019.
He told investors that production upgrades were being driven by demand for its product while prices also appeared to be on an upward trend.
Metro is seeing particularly strong demand from refineries in inland Chinese provinces where supply has been hindered by recent mine closures and environmental audits.
Additional news flow will come around the end of this month with new resource and reserve statements.