The project area is located some 180 kilometres west of Hanoi in Son La province, 80km east of the border with Laos and 150km south of the border with China.
Significant concentrations of both massive and disseminated sulphide mineralisation were identified in the 1960’s but since 2005 activity has concentrated on the smaller, but higher grade, massive sulphide deposit.
In 2006, a plan to develop an underground mine feeding an on-site processing plant using standard sulphide floatation was adopted. Following receipt of government approvals and completion of design and engineering, design and recruitment, construction commenced in January 2008. The decline in metal prices in mid ’08 together with some changes in the Vietnam taxation regime combined to undermine the project’s profitability and construction was suspended in October 2008, just 7 months before commissioning was expected to commence. The site was put into care and maintenance pending an improvement in market conditions.
An underground mine using modern mechanised equipment will feed a process plant incorporating conventional sulphide flotation technology for the production of a Ni-Cu rich concentrate which will be sold under an offtake agreement to Jinchuan metals in China.
The target mining rate is limited by the orebody size and geometry and has been set at 1,000 tpd of massive ore. The process plant throughput has been designed to match the ball mill which is expected to have an annual capacity of 450,000t. As the mine cannot match that, the plant will operate on a campaign basis until such time that additional ore sources, some of which have already been identified, can be exploited.
The mining inventory currently totals 1.61Mt at 2.2% nickel, 1.0% copper and 0.08% cobalt giving a mine life of close to 5 years. After depletion of the sulphide, the disseminated resource offers exciting upside for a larger, bulk mining operation another alternative is to mine a portion of these which are readily accessible from the u/g and could, subject to metal prices, provide an excellent opportunity to extend the life of the project.
The metal distribution in the upper sections of the ore body lends itself to extraction of high grade zones early in the life of the project which will facilitate an early payback on capital. Annual concentrate production is expected to average around 70,000t and contain 6,400t of nickel and 3,200t of copper.
Ban Phuc Nickel Mines is a Limited Liability Company registered in Vietnam; it was originally formed in 1992 to hold the exploration and mining rights in the Ban Phuc project area. The initial ownership interests were ‘AMR’ 70%, the State Government’s Mineral Development Company (“MIDECO”) 20% and the Son La Provincial Government’s Mechanical Engineering Company (‘Coxama’) 10%. In November 2005, at MIDECO’s request, AMR purchased their 20% interest thereby increasing AMR’s equity to 90%.
In January 1993 BPNM was granted a Foreign Investment Licence (‘FIL’) giving it exclusive rights for mining and exploration over an area surrounding Ban Phuc totalling 600km2. The FIL fixed tax and royalty rates for the duration of its validity and had an initial term of 20 years with provision for a 30-year extension. Through statutory relinquishments, the Contract area has since been reduced to 150km2.
BPNM received approval for its project development proposals in May 2006 and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was approved December 25, 2006. On December 17, 2007 a Mining Licence covering the Ban Phuc massive sulphide deposit was granted paving the way for issuance of a Land Use Rights Certificate over the mine and its related facilities and commencement of construction activities.
More related information:
Ban Phuc Technical Report (NI 43-101) - February 2013 (PDF Format, 6.1 MB)