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Far North Queensland tungsten producer EQ Resources has raised $6 million to fast track early works for its Mount Carbine mine expansion.

The company is boosting its mining fleet with $1.7 million worth of machinery, and has announced plans for power and plant upgrades by the end of the year to make the most of soaring tungsten prices.

It comes ahead of the release of the company’s bankable feasibility study for the expansion project, which will see EQ step up its operations to extract tungsten from the site’s 12M-tonne low-grade ore stockpile and restart open-pit mining at Mount Carbine.

The money was raised by issuing two-year convertible notes with a conversion of 6.5 cents per share, a premium of about 45 per cent to the last price of 4.5 cents per share.

“We welcome the support of lenders in the convertible note facility which will allow the company to further increase production of tungsten concentrate at a time of strong prices for this critical metal, and continue to expand the overall resource through further investigation and drilling,” EQ Resources chief executive officer Kevin MacNeill said.

EQ Resources describes the expansion as a logical next step to a 12-month trial mining and test work program performed under a recently completed METS grant project.

This has seen the successful ramp-up of the company’s ore sorting operation to treat the ore stockpile sitting on the surface at Mount Carbine as historical waste rock.

The operation has achieved daily production levels of up to 2.5 tonnes of tungsten concentrate in recent weeks through the Tomra XRT sorter ramp-up and debottlenecking of the gravity plant

To progress towards the already permitted 1MTPA operation, the company is starting early works investments with a power network upgrade as well as doubling its screening and material handling capacity.

“Our mining team has developed a high degree of confidence in the low-grade ore resource after many months of trialling the high-technology ore sorter,” Mr MacNeill said.

“A new $1.7 million mining fleet is currently arriving at site, while the required power and screening upgrades shall be completed by the end of the year – allowing us to take advantage of strengthening tungsten prices which have increased $US75 (30 per cent-plus) per mtu since January 2021.”

The additional mining fleet includes three 50-tonne dump trucks, two front end loaders, one excavator and a dozer.

A revised JORC compliant resource estimate and reserve statement is expected to be released for Mount Carbine within weeks.

The updated resource will include the results from a recent 4074m drill program, which defined the high-grade extension to the historical open pit at Mount Carbine, as well as the geological extension of the Iron Duke Zone.

The company last month reported bonanza-grade tungsten ore intercepts at the mine, with high-grade intercepts in a zone less than 40m below the floor of the existing Andy White open pit.