Chairman Brian Moritz said beginning production at Romania’s Baita Plai polymetallic mine (BPPM) in October represented “a major achievement” after a difficult journey that was “made more challenging in the latter stages by the coronavirus pandemic".
The company completed the installation of new equipment and the rehabilitation of existing mining infrastructure at the BPPM, resulting in commissioning of the plant and the starting of concentrate production in October, with first sales completed in November.
Underground drilling is “moving ahead”, Moritz said, to determine the further potential of the asset, after an initial mineral resource estimate in October pointed to a resource of 608,000 tonnes of copper and other metals and an exploration target that was increased to 3.2-5.8mln tonnes in November.
Chief executive Andrew Prelea noted the acceleration in demand for clean energy and electric vehicles during the pandemic and said Vast “is well placed to take advantage of these developments” through the BPPM making progress despite the current pandemic headwinds.
No revenue was generated in the six months to end-October as production and sales had not yet begun, but losses after tax were cut 70% to US$1.04mln, helped by a 15% decrease in administrative and overhead expenses.
During the half-year the company repaid US$0.5mln of principal of the first tranche of its Atlas debt facility, with almost 324mln shares issued to Atlas this week to cover repayment of another $0.5mln in the same tranche.
Prelea said that with good progress been made in starting to realise BPPM’s underlying value, the board was disappointed earlier this month the company was not able to refinance the current Atlas facility as planned.
“The company remains committed to seeking cheaper and strategic financing,” he said.
Away from the BPPM, Vast was also granted the Manaila Carlibaba extension exploitation license, also in northern Romania, which will allow it to re-examine the exploitation of the mineral resources within the larger 139-hectare Manaila Carlibaba license area, a 410% increase in surface area from the existing exploitation license at Manaila.
In October, the company also received a time extension of five years on the entire Manaila Carlibaba licence area and at the end of that month published a JORC 2012 compliant measured and indicated mineral resource for BPPM to cover the first four years of production.
Outside of Romania, discussions are said to be continuing over finalising the agreement with Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) for the company’s right to mine diamonds at the community diamond concession.