Phase 1 of the operation is focused on copper; producing around 630 metric tonnes a day of ore with an average head grade of 4% Copper Equivalent (Cu.Eq), it's a high-grade low tonnage start up. The ore from the 1807 zone is being mined and blended with ore from the Lower Footwall Zone.
The processing of ore from the lower footwall zone is essentially a pilot test that will provide invaluable information when future engineering and economic evaluations are conducted on the lower footwall zone.
The recently installed copper flotation circuit was installed with a name-plate design capacity of 1,000 mtpd. In addition with a small capital investment in equipment at the mine it to has the ability to produce at 1,000 mtpd thereby matching the mill. To date the historical crushing and grinding circuit appears to be the bottleneck. The Company is investigating the possibility of installing a new crushing and grinding circuit at Nugget Pond; which would allow an expansion of the Phase 1 plan. In addition the installation of such a new crushing and grinding circuit would allow both the gold hydromet and copper concentrator to be run simultaneously in parallel with one another. Thus at some point in future Rambler would have the ability to produce both a copper concentrate with precious metals in the concentrate and pour a gold dore bar.
The Company is also looking to maximize gold recovery beyond the 65% seen to date through the copper concentrator by re-proceesing the tailings before discharge to the tailings pond by sending them through the gold hydromet. The procedure worked in the laboratory increasing the gold recovery to 85% overall. Experimentation in the field will begin fiscal 2Q 2013.
The Lower Footwall Zone is located approximately 100 metres below the Ming Massive Sulphide deposit and generally parallel to the historic Ming Mine workings. To date, the deposit has been identified along a 1500 metre plunge length and has an approximate width of 50 to 200 metres. The deposit thickness generally exceeds 20 metres, up to 70 metres and has been evaluated as a potential low-cost, bulk underground mining operation. Highlight drill results from the LFZ include:
While the existing mine plan shows a mine life of 6 years (Phase 1 of the operation), the Company is currently evaluating the potential to expand the life of the mine to 20 years, Phase 2 mainly focusing on the Lower Footwall Deposit.
The LFZ has a resource of more than 18M tonnes which forms the basis of the most recent PEA conducted March 2012. As with the phase 1 plan, the Company would first optimize the Nugget Pond facility over the next two years to 1,000 metric tonnes per day. To minimize transportation costs of the ore from the Ming mine, in year three, we would build a new mill at the mine site with a nameplate capacity of 3500 metric tonnes per day. From year four to the end of mine life, the new mill at the mine site would free up the Nugget Pond facility for other ore from the region to be processed, creating more revenue.
The potential for the LFZ is a bulk tonnage operation that with the right market and commodity prices can be a very successful and profitable project. All zones are open in multiple directions. Before Rambler brought the Ming Mine back into production, the area in general was under explored and mis-understood in terms of the placement of some of the mineralization. Our advanced exploration techniques have generated new ideas and theories with respect to the gold and base metal potential within the mine. The Company is about to realize the Ming Mine's potential as a high grade low tonnage operation by declaring commercial production in November 2012. The Company would now like to realize it's potential for a bulk tonnage, long mine life operation that will increase profits and returns for all shareholders and benefit all shareholders over the following 20 years.