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Xtract's Manica upgrade underscores recent progress

The new estimate saw the total resource at Manica raised by 36% to 1.257mln ounces compared to a previous estimate
Pictured is the Manica mine in Mozambique - today's news concerned a resource upgrade from there...
Pictured is the group's Manica mine in Mozambique

Xtract Resources PLC (LON:XTR) is going great guns to meet its aim of being a mid-tier gold  producer by the end of 2017 and today's resource upgrade from the Manica project underscored progress.

The work saw the total resource at the mine - the Fair Bride deposit to be precise -  lifted by 36% to 1.257mln gold ounces compared to a previous estimate.

The firm highlighted, not only the increased gold content, but also the potential to increase the life of mine beyond 12 years.

Manica is the cog that takes Xtract from small operator wheel to mid-tier producer status because output from this site will allow future growth at the miner to be funded internally. It will also be Mozambique's first commercial goldmine.

The group aims to deliver 100,000 ounces of gold from across its projects by 2018.

Extracting Xtract's projects details

Xtract received Mozambique government approval to buy the Manica gold project from Dutch firm Auroch in March. The site lies 4km north of Manica and 270km from Biera and the rationale was to augment gold output from the group's other project - the Chépica gold and copper mine in Chile.

A number of issues have hit Chépica in recent months, causing stoppages to production. These include an earthquake in 2015 and two fatal accidents at the end of last year.

However, a re-design and restructure of operations is now "paying off", the company has said. Such work has included stoping, a type of mining, which has led to more volume being mined and better grades.

Indeed, earlier this month the firm recorded mining record levels of ore from Chepica, with a  total of just over 11,000t milled in March, which was almost equal to all the volume milled in Q4 of 2015. It is expected to mill around 30,000t in the second quarter.

Chief executive Jan Nelson has told investors, after a quiet albeit busy period, to expect a lot of news on the Manica project in coming months, where a key bankable feasibility study (BFS) is nearly done, all technical studies are completed, and, significantly, alluvial mining is due to start in June.

This mining relates to a joint venture deal inked last year, with MineralTechnologies International, and is separate from the group's open pit plans, and will be helpful in that it will remove significant overburden (the rock that overlies the target ).

The plan is to mine 32,000 ounces per year of which 16,000 will be attributable to Xtract. Start-up costs are estimated at US$1.2mln for the plant plus transport costs and, significantly, will be wholly borne by MTI, while Xtract will assume operating costs once the plant is on site.

Internal estimates set the net present value of this alluvial operation at US$97mln and show that it will deliver an internal rate of return of 68%.

Manica's robust metrics

So it's certainly an important juncture for Xtract and news from Manica should hot up considerably. Significantly, in-house estimates in March have already shown the open pit component to have "robust metrics".

The NPV (net present value) was increased to US$70mln compared to US$50mln as stated previously in a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) by vendor Auroch.

The internal rate of return (IRR) was put at 50% compared to 58%, assuming a gold price of US$1,250 per ounce.

The life of mine (LOM) increased to 12 years, compared to eight previously and production is expected to kick off in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The life of mine cash costs were put at US$549 per ounce, from US$757 per ounce.

Shares rose today 5.56% to stand at 0.19p each


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