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An expansion study shows New Century Resources would add seven years to the zinc operation’s mine life through a proposal to start open-cut mining in addition to its tailings reprocessing operations.

A feasibility study is now underway, planned for completion end of the third quarter of the 2020 financial year, towards the decision on whether to mine.

New Century Resources said first concentrate production from in-situ mining could come in the second half of the following financial year should this go ahead.

The study demonstrated excellent project economics, with in-situ operations also providing the opportunity to reduce overall project costs through by-product revenue.

Based on a throughput of 10Mtpa tailings and 2Mtpa ore from open-cut mining, the site would produce an average of 233ktpa zinc-in-concentrate across the life of mine and 29ktpa lead-in-concentrate.

It would also see total silver production of up to 18.9Moz in zinc and lead concentrates.

The combined tailings and in-situ mining operations have the potential to generate more than $1.5b in after-tax free cash flow.

New Century has recently completed phase one of its ramp up in tailings retreatment operations, generating a stable mining rate of about 8Mtpa as of mid-June.

The tailings ramp-up is now planned to progress to 12Mtpa by the end of the third quarter of this financial year.

It would wind down to 10Mtpa if in-situ operations commence per indicative timing in the second half of 2020/21.

The capital cost to starting the in-situ mining is estimated at $55 million or $97 million, depending on whether the company mines its South Block and East Fault Block operations alone or mines all in-situ deposits (concurrent with tailings operations).

Century mining expansion study yields positive results