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Barruecopardo

Overview

Ormonde holds a 30% interest in Saloro SLU, the Spanish operating company which owns and operates the Barruecopardo Tungsten Project in western Spain. Ormonde’s joint venture partner is Oaktree Capital Management, who provided a US$100 million equity and debt financing package to fund the Project’s development.

The construction and commissioning of a new tungsten mine at Barruecopardo were completed in 2019 and the Project is in the early ramp-up phase of production. Once steady-state production is attained, Barruecopardo is expected to account for around 11% of non-Chinese global supply of tungsten concentrates, making it an important global producer.

The new mine is based on an initial open pit mining operation with a 9-year mine life, designed to process 1.1 million tonnes of ore per year to produce 260,000 metric tonne units (“mtu”) of tungsten trioxide (WO3) per year, or 2,060 tonnes of tungsten metal, contained in a high-quality concentrate, following the one year ramp-up period.

Spare capacity in the processing operation potentially allows for steady-state production to be increased to around 360,000 mtu by moving from a 5 day to 7 day per week operation. Additionally, the open pit design captures only 40% of the tungsten deposit’s Mineral Resource, which remains open at depth and along strike, and detailed evaluation of a “Stage 2” underground mine is planned during the open pit production phase.

Project Info

Metal:  Tungsten

Location:  Spain – Castilla y Leon

Production Rate:  260,000 mtus WO3 (steady state)

Status:  In production

Ownership:  30%

 

The Project is located in the Salamanca Province of the Castilla y León autonomous community in western Spain, approximately 70 kilometres west of the city of Salamanca and 350 kilometres west-northwest of Madrid. Historical open pit tungsten mining was carried out at the site from the early 1900s until 1982, and for the majority of its operating life Barruecopardo was the largest tungsten mine in Spain producing a high-quality tungsten concentrate.

In 2005, Ormonde’s subsidiary Saloro SL acquired a joint venture interest in a number of Investigation Permits which included Barruecopardo, eventually acquiring a 100% interest in 2011. Following several phases of detailed drilling programs, metallurgical testwork and technical-economic studies, Saloro completed a Definitive Feasibility Study in February 2012. This DFS demonstrated an economically and financially viable project based on open pit mining and gravity processing with a pre-tax NPV (8% discount rate) of €120 million and an IRR of 52% at an APT price of US$350/mtu.

In November 2014 Saloro received the Barruecopardo Mining Concession and in May 2015 Ormonde’s shareholders approved a project financing package consisting of US$44.2 million equity and US$55.5 million debt provided by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management. In return for the equity funding, Oaktree holds a 70% interest in Saloro.

Following a stretch period in the Project’s development schedule during a time of low tungsten prices in 2015 to 2017, in June 2017 the decision was taken to advance the Project into an accelerated construction and implementation phase. Construction work advanced rapidly during 2017 and 2018, and in early to mid-2019 construction and commissioning of the processing facilities was completed and initial production commenced.

The Barruecopardo Mining Concession is held by Saloro SLU, a wholly owned subsidiary of Barruecopardo Joint Venture BV, a company incorporated in the Netherlands in which Ormonde has a 30 per cent minority interest, and Oaktree subsidiary OCM Luxembourg Tungsten Holdings has a 70 per cent majority interest. Oaktree is a leading global alternative investment management firm, with assets under management of US$119 billion (March 2019). Barruecopardo Joint Venture BV is governed by a Shareholder Agreement which provides for certain rights and obligations for each party.

The Mining Concession was granted in 2014 for an initial period of 30 years and it may be renewed for two further periods of 30 years each. Saloro also holds eight investigation permits surrounding or near to Barruecopardo. These contain prospects with potential to host satellite tungsten and / or tungsten-gold resources. Investigation permits are issued for 3 years, renewable for further periods of 3 years at the discretion of the mining authorities.

Since the decision in June 2017 to advance the Project into an accelerated construction and implementation phase, Saloro has completed the construction of the mine in line with the Project’s capital expenditure budget. The major developments included the turnkey crush and screen plant, process plant, turnkey water treatment plant, and water storage dam facilities, along with site facilities and infrastructure including power supply, office facilities, laboratory and workshop. Commissioning of individual processing circuits commenced in August 2018 and in early 2019 the mine construction and process plant commissioning were completed and the mine is transitioning into the Year-1 ramp-up phase of production.

During this ramp-up period, the mining and mineral processing will be optimised and production rates built up towards the expected steady state production rate of 1.1 million tonnes per year.

Total Mineral Resources

Category Million Tonnes
Grade (WO3%) Contained mtus (WO3)
Measured 5.47 0.34 1.86 million
Indicated 12.33 0.26 3.20 million
Inferred 9.59 0.23 2.20 million
GLOBAL 27.39 0.26 7.12 million

 

Ore Reserves within the Open Pit

Category Million Tonnes
Grade (WO3%) Contained mtus (WO3)
Proven 4.96 0.33 1.64 million
Probable 3.73 0.26 0.98 million
GLOBAL 8.69 0.30 2.61 million

The Mineral Resource Estimate was prepared by CSA Global as reported in December 2011 and is unchanged. It was reported according to the Autralasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results. Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves 9The JORC Code 2004 edition). Mineral Resources are inclusive of Ore Reserves and are reported on a 100% Project basis.

The new mining operations at Barruecopardo are being carried out using conventional open pit methods, adopting traditional drill and blast mining with shovel and truck operations. In November 2018, the open pit mining contract was awarded to one of the largest open pit mining contractors in Spain. Mobilisation of the contractor’s mining equipment commenced in December, and ore mining operations commenced in January 2019.

At full production, the mine will process 1.1 million tonnes per year in a 24 hour, 5 day per week operation to extract a tungsten concentrate from the mined ore using simple, low cost gravity processing. Mineral processing at Barruecopardo comprises four main components:

1. A four stage crush and screen circuit to reduce run-of-mine (ROM) feed to fine ore of 5 millimetres maximum size, suitable for feed to the process plant;
2. Gravity pre-concentration using jigs (+1 millimetre material) and spirals (-1 millimetre material);
3. A shaking table concentration circuit;
4. A small flotation circuit to remove sulphides.

The resulting tungsten concentrate is thickened and filtered, then dried and bagged for shipment.

The crush and screen circuit and process plant have the benefit of including around 40% spare capacity, helping to offset start-up risk and enabling future expansion.

Together with this spare capacity in the processing operation, there is significant potential to increase production through the future development of a “Stage 2” underground mine. The initial open pit design captures only 40% of the current total Mineral Resource delineated at the Project. The Barruecopardo deposit is open along strike and at depth, and further detailed delineation of the underground potential is planned during the open pit production phase.

Health and Safety: Saloro, as the operating company of the Barruecopardo Project, prioritises the welbeing of all personnel working on the site. Saloro has implemented rigorous health and safety policies and procedures, and is accredited for the international standard OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems).

Environment: Saloro is also accredited for the international environmental standard ISO 14001 (Environmental Management). An Environmental Impact Assessment was a key requirement during the Project’s permitting process and the Project was granted an Environmental Impact Declaration by the regional environmental authority in 2014. The Project’s environmental management system and supporting action plans ensure that the Barruecopardo mine development project and mining operations are managed according to best practice and all necessary standards, that the activities are continuously monitored and that the local community and relevant authorities are regularly informed during the Project’s implementation and operation.

Community Relations: Saloro is committed to ensuring that the benefits brought by its mine production activities are enjoyed by all stakeholders, including its employees and the local surrounding communities. This approach includes hiring staff from the local area and, where possible, using local contractors and suppliers.