In December, AfriTin Mining Limited (LON:ATM) saw the first large-scale blast at its key asset, the Uis tin project in north-west Namibia, as part of phase 1 pilot production at the site.
The ore produced is being prepared and stockpiled, awaiting the construction of the phase 1 processing plant which is designed to process around 500,000 tonnes of ore per annum and produce 60 tonnes of tin concentrate per month.
The second phase will comprise the planned operation of the 3mln tonne per annum processing facility, producing the 5,000 tonnes of tin concentrate targeted in the scale-up.
A formerly producing mine that was shut-down more than 20 years ago when the tin price hit a nadir and Namibia was still coming to terms with its new-found independence, AfriTin is now looking for Uis to restart its output.
Historical resource estimate
According to a historic resource estimate prepared by SRK, Uis contains over 70mln tonnes of ore containing 95,000 tonnes of tin.
The mine plan worked out by SRK says that that’s enough to allow for production through to 2063, although initially, AfriTin has much more modest goals.
“We need to bring those old numbers into modern JORC-reporting compliance,” says Anthony Viljoen, chief executive of AfriTin.
“We will start up with a steady state 65 tonnes per month,” he says. “But we want to scale up to 5,000 tonnes per year on three million tonnes run of mine. That would be a little over one per cent of world production. All of our areas are fully licensed so we can start mining straight away.”
It ought not to cost too much to get going, as the ore is coarse-grained, there’ll be no milling required, and it’s all open cast.
Riding the new Supercycle
One of the key intellectual drivers behind the development of AfriTin is the idea that the Supercycle is not over.
Mining sector investors will know that the idea of the Supercycle was what drove the last mining boom, and what made valuations soar to such unusually stellar heights. Even at the time, its proponents argued that its effects would be long-lasting.
“The industrialisation of China and India is now moving into a new realm,” says Viljoen, “that of the consumer.”
It’s a compelling thought. After all, it’s one thing mobilising the economies of China and India for manufacturing and technology, but it’s quite another when the net result is a potential new consumer base of two billion people and counting.
New acreage in Namibia
In October, the company also expanded its footprint in Namibia by agreeing to acquire two more tin and tantalum licences.
The company will buy all of Tantalum Investment from Jan Jonathan Serfontein for £850,000 in shares issued at 3.4p. Tantalum Investment owns the licences, one of which includes the formerly producing Brandberg West tin and tungsten mine that was in operation until the 1980's.
The other licence, EPL5670, sits in the Goantagab belt in Namibia.
The licenses are around 80km away from the Uis mine and within a once prolific tin-producing region.
Since the start of the year, the company has seen its share price rise around 40% to 3.2p, giving it a market cap of £17.1mln.