Amur Minerals Ready for Drilling Once Long-Awaited Mining License Is Granted
By: Amur Minerals
In an interview with Proactive Investors UK, Amur Minerals CEO Robin Young expressed his optimism that the production licensewill soon be awarded to the company by the Russian Government. He added that the company is capable of undertaking a 6,000-meter exploration drilling program in 2015 at its flagship nickel-copper project, the Kun-Manie Project.
"We'd taken a review of our inventory, and we are quite capable of moving ahead with 6,000 meters of drilling over the next available field season to us," Young said. "And when I say available, I mean this coming 2015 season."
Supplies and fuel are not a problem for Amur Minerals, he added. "We have the materials available to do that today," Young said. "If we wanted to drill even more meters, we would have to start expending company treasury at that point. But we, at this point in time, are prepared and capable of implementing the 6,000 meter program."
The drilling program is part of the requirements for the awarding of the production license as it will lead to project implementation. The program covers all deposits and additional areas of mineral potential and will serve as the basis for conducting detailed exploration. The project plan includes consideration of metallurgical test work and design planning options. The document, which is almost complete, will be an integral part of the development program.
The exploration will start at the Malyurumkom or Flangovy deposit, which contains almost 45 percent of the presently identified mineralization of approximately 830,000 tons of nickel equivalent metal as estimated by the Joint Ore Reserves Committee in 2013. The plan includes in-fill drilling of inferred resources and step-out drilling to define the lateral extent of the mineralization. Four months of drilling are planned, with the optimal season ranging from late May to November.
By compiling a plan in advance of the receipt of the production license, the company would be in the position of swiftly mobilizing and conducting a drill program during the 2015 field season, which typically begins in June, when sufficient water from thawing streams is available for drilling. "What we do intend to do is immediately partake in the development of the project itself," Young said.
However, he reiterated that the company will only be able to start the exploration drilling program once it receives its much awaited mining license—something that the company has been working on for six years. "We have to sign off on our participation document, which tells the Russian Government how we plan to develop this project all the way through to production,"
In spite of the crisis that Russia is experiencing because of Western sanctions and ruble depreciation, Young assures investors that the crisis has little impact on the company. Even though he claims that the company is a completely Russian corporation with a focus on Russia, he maintains that Amur Minerals is apolitical in its decisions.
"One of the advantages is, at the moment, the devaluation of the Russian ruble, which has strengthened our position financially,"
It also helps that the current team maintains sole ownership of Amur Minerals—quite a huge feat, considering that most Russian mining companies are fully or partly state-owned. "At this point in time, we are in control of 100 percent of the asset," said Young.
He added that Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of the Amur Oblast region where the Kun-Manie Project is located, "has been very pleased with the way we've handled and maintained stewardship in the development of the project itself."
Young and Kozhemyako recently met to discuss the power infrastructure requirements for the project. Since the Kun-Manie Project is capable of providing more than a thousand jobs and additional revenues to Amur Oblast, Kozhemyako fully supports the project. Amur Minerals and Amur Oblast will work together to find the lowest cost and most effective method to access the site and transport metals back to the market.
But Young admitted that the Russian crisis has also given the company a disadvantage. "Even if the zeppelin technology is proven to be available to us and also a positive impact on the project itself, we may not be able bring it in this country."
In early 2014, Amur Minerals entered a memorandum of understanding with Aeroscraft Corporation to explore utilization of Aeroscraft's heavy lift vehicles for the company's Kun-Manie Project. This would eliminate the need to construct a 320-kilometer site access road from Baikal Amur to the proposed mining site, thereby reducing startup costs and lead time. That could lead to more expenditure for the company.
Still, the awarding of the production license is not a far off possibility. Just like what Young said at the end of his official statement, "We are ready to advance this project under our stewardship."