Central Asia Metals reports tailings leak at Macedonia

Macedonia-based SASA mine – Image courtesy of Lynx Resources

Central Asia Metals (AIM: CAML) has reported that tailings from its Sasa zinc-lead mine have leaked into a local river in northeastern Macedonia.

The leakage — discovered at 5 a.m. on Sept. 14 — “was stopped soon after and nobody has been harmed,” the company stated in a brief news release, adding that “an investigation is now underway to ascertain the volume of leaked material as well as the root cause.”

The underground mine is about 150 km east of the capital city of Skopje and 10 km north of Makedonska Kamenica.

It produces about 820,000 tonnes of mineralized material a year and has an estimated mine life of 18 years.

Central Asia Metals acquired the mine in 2017 and the operation employs about 700 people

The processing plant operates both lead and zinc flotation processes, producing separate concentrates. The lead concentrate contains about 73% lead and the zinc concentrate contains about 49% zinc. Silver is also produced and reports to the lead concentrate. The concentrates are stored in two separate bays before being loaded into haulage trucks for sale to smelters in Bulgaria and Poland. Tailings from the processing plant are placed in storage facilities on site.

Sasa has a long-standing stream agreement with Osisko Gold Royalties (TSX: ORE; NYSE: OR), according to Central Asia Metals. Under the agreement, the London-listed company receives about $5 per oz. for its silver production for the life of the mine.

According to the company, the Sasa deposit was discovered between 1954 and 1965 and began commercial production as a state-owned facility in 1966.

It was closed in 2002 and placed into bankruptcy due to a lack of funding.

Solway Investments Group acquired the mine, invested in new equipment and operations resumed in 2006. In 2015, Solway sold the mine to Fusion Capital and Orion Mine Finance Group.

Central Asia Metals acquired the mine in 2017 and the operation employs about 700 people.

In an email today to The Northern Miner, the company’s director of corporate relations in London, Louise Wrathall, said she did not “currently have any more information than that announced yesterday,” but added that the company will be releasing its interim results on Sept. 16, and hosting an analyst call, “so we’ll surely cover any new information we have by then on that.”

(This article first appeared in The Northern Miner on September 15)

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