Nickel-copper sulphide mineral exploration and resource development company Amur Minerals Corporation has completed the full restock and mobilisation of all machinery, spares and supplies for completion of its 2018 field season on its Kun-Manie nickel copper sulphide project, located in the far east of Russia, it announced on Friday.
The AIM-traded firm said this year's field season would be focused on gathering information for inclusion in project engineering study work and operational design, for consideration and the incorporation into necessary documentation related to project financing.
Further resource expansion potential remained, the board said, however those areas would be drilled once operations have begun.
The company said its resupply transport effort began on 15 February, and was completed on 10 April.
A total of 11 convoys traversed the 350 kilometre-long ice road, and had now successfully fully restocked the Kun-Manie project, site allowing the company to implement its 2018 field programme.
More than half a million litres of summer and winter fuel, and 200 tonnes of additional supplies, were delivered to the site.
The personnel responsible for completion of the resupply had now transitioned into final site preparation work, for the arrival of the remaining summer field crew.
Amur said the total staff on site would be in the order of 100 individuals.
Field operations had already been initiated, with the start of the construction of needed roads and drill sites.
Full scale summer activities were anticipated to be underway by the middle of May.
The board said drilling would include the acquisition of a metallurgical sample from the Ikenskoe / Sobolevsky (IKEN) and Kubuk (KUB) deposits, and the mineralised area lying between the two deposits.
Infill drilling of a high-grade area - currently defined to be inferred as of March by JORC 2012 standards - was also scheduled.
Throughout all four planned mining areas, closely spaced drill holes would be completed in accordance with Russian reserve reporting standards, as a part of the requirement for final mine plan approvals.
The amount of subsurface water would continue to be drill tested to determine the extent of any water diversion requirements and dewatering needs from the anticipated open pits and underground mining operations.
"All materials required for our 2018 field engineering programme at Kun-Manie are now on site and we are ready to begin the acquisition of additional key information necessary for the inclusion in study documentation leading to project financing," said Amur CEO Robin Young.
"This year's programme substantially differs from our past field seasons where the primary objective has been resource expansion and the ultimate determination of a long term reserve suitable for supporting project funding and the repayment of future funding requirements."
Young said that, having identified the largest nickel sulphide deposit located immediately adjacent to China, Korea and Japan, coupled with the potential for substantial exploration upside at Kun-Manie, the company was now able to transition into the detailed engineering of the project.
"With the project being a highly valued source of sulphide nickel, copper and cobalt needed for electric vehicle batteries, the scope of our engineering activities has been broadened."
The engineering information gathering phase had also been expanded beyond the firm's consideration of producing a toll smeltable concentrate, Young explained, and the possible generation of a low grade matte.
"The electric vehicle market has opened new avenues of potential.
"The two primary areas of interest have the potential to generate near or battery ready materials for direct sale to battery manufacturers and to widen the rank of Asian centric strategic partners available to assist in the development of Kun-Manie."