Trigon Metals (TSXV: TM) has succeeded in restarting copper and silver concentrate production at the Kombat mine in Namibia, placing the project on track to meet commercial production targets by March.
The restarted plant is expected to produce 4,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in 2022, and the achievement represents a significant de-risking of the mine.
“A functioning mill is the primary technical hurdle in a mine’s operation, and that hurdle has been overcome at Kombat,” CEO Jed Richardson said in a news release.
Teams worked through the holiday period to complete the install of filter presses and run ore through the full production process to achieve this milestone on time, the company said.
The concentrate produced exceeded management expectations, demonstrating the combination of new equipment from Xinhai and refurbished equipment from the former operation were operating well.
The feed material for this initial production was said to entail sub-optimal lower grade ore, while grind size, residence times and reagent use were optimized. The mill achieved “satisfactory” grades approaching 20% copper and over 600 grams per tonne silver, “well ahead of expectation at this stage of start-up,” said Richardson.
Production continues, building up to first concentrate shipments toward the end of January.
In September 2021, Trigon announced a new Kombat mineral resource of 39.1 million tonnes (including inferred resources), up more than 450% from the 7 million tonnes previously calculated in 2018.
The Kombat mine, located in the Otavi Mountain region, is a historical mine that operated from 1962 to 2008, during which it produced 12.46 million tonnes of ore grading 2.6% copper.
Sprott-backed (20%) Trigon recently expanded its project portfolio by acquiring the Silver Hill copper-silver project in Morocco.
Namibia also has the Tsumeb smelter, operated by Dundee Precious Metals (TSX: DPM). Tsumeb is expected to be at or below the low end of the guidance range of 200,000-220,000 tonnes for 2021.
According to Fitch Solutions, the start of production coincides with a bleaker outlook for copper prices in 2022, which retains a bearish outlook for the metal’s price trajectory. It expects average copper prices to moderate from $9,285 per tonne in 2021 to $9,200 per tonne this year and $8,700 per tonne in 2023, before further tapering to $8,400 per tonne in 2025.
At C45.5c per share, Trigon equities trading in Toronto is up more than 22% over the past 12 months, capitalizing it at C$71.4 million ($56m).