Africa-focussed natural resources investment company Armadale Capital announced on Monday that an optimisation study for the Mahenge Liandu Graphite Project in Tanzania has now been completed by ROM Resources.
The AIM-traded firm said the results of the optimisation study were used to generate a mining schedule focusing on high grade near surface mineralisation.
It said the first seven years of production showed "exceptionally high" graphite grades averaging 15.5% total graphitic carbon (TGC), with an average grade of 12.5% over the life of mine.
It said a mining schedule over 31 years was produced at 400,000 tpa, averaging 12.5% TGC over the life of the mine.
The near surface nature of the deposit produced a low strip ratio of approximately 1:1 for the life of the mine, Armadale's board explained, adding that there was "substantial potential" for both the expansion of the throughput and mine life due to the large size of the resource.
Optimisation results underpinned the low cost, high grade potential of the project, the company said, which - together with the high quality of the graphite concentrates produced to date - pointed to the ability to produce an "extremely robust" initial scoping study, results of which were expected in the coming weeks, and would provide initial project economics.
A diamond drilling programme, targeted to commence in the second quarter of 2018, would focus on obtaining representative samples of ore from the first areas to be mined as well as geotechnical drilling to support the final pit design.
"To have defined a 31 year mine plan that can produce 400,000tpa of graphite at a grade of 12.5% is very exciting," said Armadale director Nick Johansen.
"Crucially the mine plan is based on near surface material with a very low strip ratio, which has positive cost impacts as the deposit will be relatively simple to mine and metallurgical test work to date has shown that minimal processing is required to produce a high grade, quality graphite concentrate."
Johansen said the results of the mine plan and optimisation work would feed into the scoping study, which was now nearing completion.
"The results will give a clearer indication of the project economics from which we will be able to better define our development plan.
"We look forward to sharing the results of this with shareholders in the coming weeks."