The company is testing four drill defined deposits and it said new results can allow it to assess the economic potential of the open-pit only project, with subsequent analysis set to determine the potential to access deeper ores via underground mining.
Specifically, the company is looking at the Maly Kurumkon / Flangovy (MKF) deposit which was previously deemed suitable for both mining methods.
In a statement, the company noted that some 76% of a resource estimate earlier this year can be mined by open-pit, with the material hosted within pit mining limits defined by nickel pricing between US$3.20 per pound and US$3.60 per pound. Nearly 93% of the accessible resource is already estimated within the higher confidence ‘measured and indicated’ resource category, so the need for additional infill drilling work is limited.
It envisages open-pit production of some 77mln tonnes, containing 564,100 tonnes of nickel and 151,500 tonnes of copper as well as by-product cobalt, platinum and palladium.
The open-pit mine earning (EBITDA) is estimate to earn more than US$1.6bn, which represents an upgrade on a prior estimate of US$1.2bn, and the company noted that it is based on conservative assumptions for metal prices than before.
Chief executive Robin Young described the latest findings as encouraging, highlighting that the present data excludes the new areas of ore unearthed in this year’s drill programme (which doubled resources at both the Ikenskoe/Sobolevsky and Kubuk areas).
"We are pleased to provide the initial results of the mining potential at Kun-Manie,” Young said.
“Whilst Amur is looking at both open pit and underground mining production, this evaluation of an exclusive open pit mining assessment has included and consolidated an abundance of newly acquired information since our last report on mining potential in 2015.
“With new resource models from February 2017, a Prefeasibility Study identifying a more definitive mining approach for underground ore mining is being updated. This will include the available independently reviewed operating costs, additional metallurgical recovery information and a comprehensive review of all preceding results.”
He added: "Having determined that nearly 77% of our resource falls within four open pits, we can assess the economic potential of the exclusive open pit option and can now move forward to establish the underground mining potential.
“A key consideration in this assessment is to maximize the operating profit per ore tonne. It is likely that portions of the open pit ores may be more profitably mined by underground methods and we may also be able to recover ores that do not fall within the currently defined pit limits.”