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Metals X on track in Nifty copper mine ramp-up


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Metals X on track in Nifty copper mine ramp-up

Metals X Ltd. expects to reach its production target of 40,000 tonnes per annum at the Nifty copper mine in Western Australia in the second quarter of 2018.

The ASX-listed miner acquired the troubled operation via the takeover of Aditya Birla Minerals Ltd. in August 2016.

"The operating plant was running at about 40% capacity," Managing Director Warren Hallam told delegates Oct. 17 at the Australian Nickel Conference in Perth.

"So our objective here was to bring this online as quickly as possible, breathe some oxygen into it, extend the life, bring the mine back up to 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes of production.

"We're 12 months into that. We gave ourselves an 18-month target, so we're expecting basically around April/May next year to be at 40,000 tonnes."

Metals X forecasts that Nifty will generate about A$160 million of cash flow at a margin of about A$3,500 per tonne at the current copper price.

Hallam also flagged the potential to bring the original solvent extraction and electrowinning process plant back online to process the existing heaps.

Nifty began as a heap leach operation with an output of 25,000 tonnes of cathode production.

"Probably about 50% still remains in those heaps," Hallam said. "They run around 17 million tonnes at about 0.6%, so with the copper price moving up there is certainly an opportunity to bring that back online as well."

Metals X is also focused on expanding the Nifty operation and has already uncovered extensions to the east, west and at depth. Step-out drilling 1 kilometer down plunge has intersected over 30 meters of copper mineralization.

"The mine has only ever been mined over 600 meters and that's produced over 20 million tonnes at around 2.5% copper," Hallam said. "Our first objective was to come in here and show that this had a lot more life in it."