--UPDATE, ADDS MORE DETAIL AND BACKGROUND--
The Toronto quoted mine developer climbed nearly 6% to trade at 18 Canadian cents each.
Asmara Mining (AMSC), a joint venture 60% owned by the Canadian group, has been awarded licences spanning 19.3 square kilometres and encompassing four advanced deposits - namely Emba Derho, Adi Nefas, Gupo Gold and Debarwa.
These areas were all incorporated into the feasibility study for Asmara, a proposed copper-zinc-gold mining operation.
Asmara is forecast to start commercial mining operations in the third quarter of 2016. It will initially produce a high-grade copper direct shipping ore (DSO) product from the Debarwa deposit.
"The acquisition of the mining licenses is another important step forward for AMSC and Sunridge and we are grateful for the continued support of the Government of Eritrea" said Michael Hopley, Sunridge chief executive.
"We now remain focused on our plans to finalize financing arrangements for Phase 1A - the mining and shipping the high-grade copper and gold direct shipping ore from Debarwa.”
The Asmara feasibility study was delivered back in May 2013.
It showed the project is capable of producing 29,000 tonnes of copper and 42,000 ounces of gold over the first eight years of its life, not to mention 184 million pounds of zinc and a million ounces of silver.
What’s more, certain parts of the Asmara ore were rich enough to constitute what’s known in the trade as direct shipping ore (DSO), meaning that there’s enough metal inside the rock for the company just to dig it up, ship it out and sell it, without any need for processing.
Sunridge estimated back in 2013 that it would take just US$30mln to get the DSO aspect of its operation up and running.
But of course, crucial was the permits. Not that these were in serious doubt, given that the Eritrean government is an equity partner in Asmara, but with the new mining permits now in, the company can press ahead its plans.
Sunridge was among the vanguard of mining companies that went into East Africa as the mining boom of the last decade was getting underway.
Bisha is slated to produce over 891 mln pounds of copper over a production life that should last through until 2025.
In September 2015, a mining agreement was signed between Asmara Mining and Eritrea’s Minister of Energy and Mines, General Sebhat Ephrem.