Finders Resources’ (ASX:FND) Wetar copper project in Indonesia may be able to operate for much longer than originally forecast, boosting the economics substantially, the company said today.
An update on its bankable feasibility study (BFS) indicated a number of ways to boost its life beyond nine years, Finders said.
The updated study suggested copper recoveries of 87.5 per cent could be achieved compared to the 75 per cent figure used in the original estimate.
In addition, reconciliation of the 100,000t bulk sample with the modelled resource increases the estimate of contained copper in the Kali Kuning deposit by around 3.5 per cent, while exploration of the satellite Meron deposit could realise between 1 and 5 Mt of copper mineralisation.
Any extension to the mine life would mean a substantial boost to the project’s profits, with each extra year of production adding $155 million of underlying earnings at current copper prices and estimated production costs.
Chris Farmer, Finders’ managing director, said that in the current inflationary environments for new projects, the BFS update was an excellent result stemming from a number of significant design improvements despite some increase in key costs.
The Australia-listed firm said the updated bankable feasibility study for the project now indicated estimated operating costs to $1.07/lb Cu, against $1.09/lb Cu previously. The construction costs had also risen by 7.7 per cent to just over $167 million, it added.
Farmer added that the update confirmed “Finders is well positioned as one of the few ASX listed copper companies with potential for near term production and considerable upside to extend mine life by means of increased copper grades and recoveries and substantial potential to double the existing resource base”.
The company added that gazetting the new Spatial Plan of Maluku is close to completion pending release of maps for formal signing and again said changes to Indonesia’s mining processing and ownership regulation will not have an adverse impact on the project.
“We are delighted that more detailed work has continued to confirm the strong project economics for the Wetar copper project. The BFS update is the result of a significant amount of work progressing and improving designs and obtaining updated cost estimates. The BFS update will be the basis for our capital raising strategy and construction timetable,” Farmer added.
The Wetar deposit is over eight million tonnes and at an average grade of 2.5 per cent contains 200,000 tonnes of copper.