Asia Minerals Corporation is moving towards becoming an integrated mining and processing company. It focuses on the steel making ingredient manganese, with the intent to service demands from industrial China. Currently, Asia Minerals is the only company operating in Indonesia that fully complies with recent mineral export rule changes, making it the only company currently able to export Indonesian Manganese. The company broke ground for a smelter in West Timor near the end of last year, and is rapidly advancing the project through the completion of environmental approvals and project licensing.
Furthermore, Asia Minerals is currently the target of a takeover bid by Brighton Mining (ASX:BTN). The board of Asia Minerals Corporation believes that this transaction can be completed during June of this year, and that Asia Minerals shareholders would take a controlling position in the merged entity as a result of the acquisition.
- Fully compliant with Indonesian mineral export rules, and the only company able to export Indonesian manganese
- Fully established local and operational structures
- MOU for development of Mn assets signed with Robust Resources (ASX:ROL)
- Good geographical position for shipping exports to China
- Fully compliant with Indonesian regulations and major quota holder for manganese export
- Federal and Regency governments’ full support and assistance
- Mining tenements owned 100% and significant supply coming from multiple contracts
- Land for smelter site has been secured and ground breaking ceremony held
Wini Port Smelter and Manganese Processing
Located near Atapupu Port in West Timor’s Belu Regency, Asia Minerals’ ferromanganese alloy smelter is key to its compliance with Indonesian law. Asia Minerals has already shown the ‘real intent’ required by Indonesian authorities through its completion of a feasibility study and groundbreaking ceremony for the smelter.
The company saw its first revenues in January and February with small domestic shipments to Java, and anticipates that these shipments will rise to 7-12,000 tonnes per month. However, the construction of the smelter in Belu regency will allow for integrated downstream alloy production from manganese mined at Asia Minerals mining tenements, and will be key to the company’s plan to ramp up exports.
The feasibility study was completed in November 2013, while the groundbreaking ceremony took place that December after land was secured for the smelter. The smelter will convert 45 percent grade manganese ore to 78 percent grade ferromanganese alloy.
Smelting reduces oxidized ore compounds by placing them in an oxygen starved environment at high temperatures. Commonly, manganese is processed in a smelter to produce either ferromanganese or
silicomanganese, but Asia Minerals will focus on the ferro. Ferromanganese is a high carbon manganese-iron alloy consisting of 76 to 80 percent manganese, 12 – 15 percent iron, up to 7.5 percent carbon and up to 1.5 percent silicon.
Asia Minerals plans to build a refining facility with eight furnaces and will use power supplied from an onsite self contained coal fired power station. Capital costs for the complete facility will be approximately US$ 45 million, excluding power costs, and the furnace complex will be built in two stages over three years. It will be constructed by an existing Javanese smelter operator.
Asia Minerals currently has high grade ore processing facilities 2 kilometres from Wini Port. The facilities include ore crushers, screening decks, weighbridges, and site laboratories. Additionally the company will construct and commission three processing plants, the first in November 2014 and two further plants in the first quarter of 2015.
As of March 2014, Asia Minerals has continued to ship ore production directly from mining sources. It plans to process ore by the second half of 2014, with volumes ramping up from a projected 17,500 tpm in Q3 2014 to 40,000 tpm in Q2 2016.
Furthermore, a recent press release from Robust Resources (ASX:ROL) with whom Asia Minerals has signed a development MOU, notes results from a recently updated scoping study indicating significant potential for the project. Robust Resources is planning to supply Asia Minerals with manganese for processing from its Romang Island project. Initially, a 566,000 tonne inferred resource was drilled out at the property, but the updated study increased total indicated and inferred resources to 738,000 tonnes with a grade of 41.1 percent manganese.
The scoping study update also suggested that the current inferred manganese resource would likely be increased and/or converted to an indicated resource classification. Also, additional grades of greater than 40 percent manganese mineralization are likely to be discovered in ongoing exploration, while the study stated that the commercial potential for the benification of low-grade (10 to 30 percent) manganese mineralization bears evaluation. Ongoing drilling is planned for the rest of 2014, with plans to complete a feasibility study before the end of December.
West Timor Exploration
Asia Minerals Corporation has two exploration projects in Indonesia, with its 100 percent owned PT TUM and PT LRG mining tenements located on the island of West Timor. Asia Minerals Corporation has been conducting exploration projects for manganese in West Timor since 2011, and is the most advanced manganese exploration group in Indonesia. To date, Asia Minerals has invested roughly $3.5 million in exploration, and has located and mapped over 650 occurrences of manganese in explored areas.
Asia Minerals’ wholly owned tenement at PT TUM features historic production from a current pit, and to date, geological results have indicated fault controlled massive manganese on contact with an ultramafic intrusive plug as well as numerous manganese outcrops throughout the IUP. Furthermore, there is a potential extension of the strike to east-north-east and west-south-west from existing workings over 3.5 kilometres.
Asia Minerals Corporation has defined seven targets featuring strike lengths of up to 500 metres. Active artisanal mining at one location has identified average grades of 42.85 percent in manganese of up to three metres true thickness, as well as numerous inactive pits.
Twelve drill holes have been planned for May through June of 2014 to test mineral extensions and chargeability anomalies at PT TUM. Furthermore, Asia Minerals has planned a target drill program of 14 holes for PT LRG during May and June.
With an experienced management and exploration team, Asia Minerals is using modern techniques to tap West Timor’s extensive resources of high grade manganese. The region features exceptionally high grades of the metal, usually 50 percent or higher.
Asia Minerals has already broken ground at its Timor operation and is quickly advancing towards completion of a full feasibility study for the project. Additionally, Asia Minerals is focussed on reaching key milestones with the construction of its smelter and processing plants so that it may ramp up shipments of manganese concentrate while lowering payments of export duties.