The Abra Base Metals Mine (Abra or the Project) is a globally significant lead-silver project located in the Edmund Basin in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia (situated between the towns of Newman and Meekatharra, approximately 110 kilometres west of Sandfire’s DeGrussa Copper Mine).
Map showing Abra’s location.
Abra comprises a granted Mining Lease, M52/0776 and is surrounded by the Exploration Licence E52/1455, together with several co-located General Purpose and Miscellaneous Leases. The Project is 100% owned by AMPL, which is a 60:40 joint venture between Galena Mining Limited (Galena) (ASX: G1A) and the leading producer of lead in Japan, Toho Zinc Co., Ltd. (Toho) (TSE: 5707).
Abra is located approximately 100km due west of the great northern highway which connects the towns of Meekatharra and Newman. Access to Abra can be via the Ashburton Downs Road or via aircraft utilising the newly constructed 1.8km unsealed airstrip. Lead-silver concentrate produced at Abra will be transported by road to the port of Geraldton in the mid-west of Western Australia for export. Abra has received all the major approvals required for construction, mining and production. The mine is being constructed in 2022 with the first lead-silver concentrate scheduled for production and shipping in the first quarter of 2023.
AMPL completed a Feasibility Study (FS) (see Galena ASX announcement of 22 July 2019) for development of a mechanised underground mine and concentrator (processing plant) with a 16-year life producing a high-value, high-grade lead-silver concentrate containing approximately 95kt of lead and 805koz of silver per year once steady-state production is achieved. Typical Western Australian mechanised underground mining methods will be used for the development and ore production from the Abra mine. The mine and processing production rate will be 1.3 million tonnes per annum when steady-state throughput is achieved in 2024. The processing plant (concentrator) is a standard 3 stage crush, grind, flotation, concentrate filtration plant built to match the targeted underground production rate. Tailings will be placed either in a surface tailings storage facility (TSF) or returned underground as cement paste fill for the filling of mined voids, primarily for regional ground support.
The FS completed in 2019 outlined a pre-development capital expenditure estimates of A$170 million, the FS modelled a pre-tax net present value for Abra (at an 8% discount rate) of A$553 million and an internal rate of return of 39%. The FS mined and processed 16.3Mt containing 8.1% lead and 20g/t silver. The initial mine life was 16 years producing an average of 95,000 tonnes of lead metal and 805,000 ounces of silver per annum. This production came from within a very large mineral resource base of 34.5Mt containing 7.2% lead and 16 g/t silver.
In 2021 the Final Investment Decision (FID) was made to construct and bring into production the Abra Mine. Significant Western Australian contracting companies were engaged to carry out a significant portion of the required works.
Byrnecut Underground Contractors were awarded the development and mining works associated with the first 4 years of the mine life. Underground development commenced in October 2021. First ore is expected to be mined underground in November 2022.
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Picture showing Jumbo development drill working underground at Abra (June 2022).
GR Engineering Services (GR Engineering) were awarded an engineering, procurement, and construction contract (EPC) for the building of the processing facility (concentrator). The plant was commissioned in January 2023 with the production ramp-up profile matching the underground production rate.
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Abra processing plant construction (June 2022)
Abra is set to become a new high margin Australian base metals producer following the commissioning of the mine. Completed Project works to date includes underground mine portal; box-cut; box-cut ground support; ROM pad; 280-unit mine accommodation village; production water infrastructure (bores, pumps, storage and water reticulation); site communications; aerodrome; site administration facilities; and various site clearing, roadworks and civil works. First production of Abra’s high-value, high-grade lead-silver concentrate was concluded in the first quarter of 2023 calendar year.