TIDMCAML

RNS Number : 5319E

Central Asia Metals PLC

08 July 2021

8 July 2021

CENTRAL ASIA METALS PLC

('CAML' or the 'Company')

H1 2021 Operations Update

Central Asia Metals plc (AIM: CAML) today provides a H1 2021 operations update for the Kounrad dump leach, solvent extraction and electro-winning ('SX-EW') copper recovery plant in Kazakhstan ('Kounrad') and the Sasa zinc-lead mine in North Macedonia ('Sasa').

H1 2021 operational highlights

   --    River Remediation Project completed at Sasa 
   --    No lost time injuries ('LTIs') at Kounrad 
   --    Three LTIs at Sasa 
   --    Kounrad copper production, 6,214 tonnes 
   --    Sasa zinc in concentrate production, 11,292 tonnes 
   --    Sasa lead in concentrate production, 13,807 tonnes 

Group cash and debt position

   --    Cash in the bank on 30 June 2021, $54.4 million 
   --    Gross debt (inclusive of $8.7 million overdraft) on 30 June 2021, $60.9 million 

o H1 2021 Group corporate debt repayments of $19.2 million

CAML Board changes

   --    Deputy Chairman, Nigel Hurst-Brown, to retire from the CAML Board as of 31 July 2021 

CAML production summary

 
 Metal production    Q2 2021   Q1 2021   H1 2021   H1 2020 
  (tonnes) 
 Copper                3,334     2,880     6,214     6,607 
                    --------  --------  --------  -------- 
 Zinc                  5,549     5,742    11,292    12,203 
                    --------  --------  --------  -------- 
 Lead                  6,791     7,016    13,807    15,140 
                    --------  --------  --------  -------- 
 

Nigel Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, commented:

"Completion of the River Remediation Project to the satisfaction of our local and national stakeholders has been the highlight of H1 2021 and we believe this draws a line under the tailings storage facility 4 ('TSF4') incident, albeit with continued monitoring programmes remaining in place.

"The three LTIs at Sasa were of course a disappointment and lessons have been learnt from each of the incidents.

"Our copper production during the first half of the year at Kounrad was solid and we are firmly on track to meet our full year guidance. At Sasa, the Q1 2021 mill shutdown, coupled with additional ground support requirements, has resulted in slightly lower H1 2021 zinc and lead production than the prior comparative period. We will provide further updates with regards to our 2021 production guidance, if required, later in the year.

"During the period, we have seen strong metal prices and therefore look forward to releasing our H1 2021 financial results on 15 September 2021, when we will also announce our interim dividend."

Nick Clarke, Non-Executive Chairman, commented:

"Nigel Hurst-Brown was our first Chairman, guiding CAML through its listing on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in 2010, until my transition to Chairman in 2016. He has been a diligent member of the Board for 15 years and I want to thank him for his commitment to our business and his wise counsel, as well as wishing him all the best for the future."

Health and Safety

There were no LTIs at Kounrad during the reported period. Three LTIs were recorded at Sasa during H1 2021, with two in Q2 2021.

COVID-19 remains a risk to the welfare of CAML employees and contractors and there have been cases of the virus at both Sasa and Kounrad during the reported period. However, both sites currently have zero COVID-19 cases.

Kounrad

Kounrad Q2 2021 copper production of 3,334 tonnes brings output for the first six months of 2021 to 6,214 tonnes. Copper sales during H1 2021 were 6,241 tonnes.

Sasa

River Remediation Project

During Q2 2021, the River Remediation Project was completed. Phase 1 of the project, comprising removal of approximately 95% of the tailings from the riverbed, was completed during Q4 2020. Phase 2 involved extraction of as much as possible of the remaining tailings as well as removal of the physical silt traps from the river, and the planting of 3,600 trees, 350 shrubs and 320 kilogrammes of wildflower seed and grasses. The monitoring of water quality and biodiversity will be ongoing.

Production

In Q2 2021, mined and processed ore were 206,283 tonnes and 213,450 tonnes respectively, bringing the H1 2021 total to 413,987 tonnes of ore mined and 423,863 tonnes of ore processed. The average head grades for the Q2 2021 period were 3.05% zinc and 3.42% lead, and for H1 2021 were on average 3.14% and 3.50% respectively. The average H1 2021 metallurgical recoveries were 84.9% for zinc and 93.2% for lead.

Additional localised ground support was required during the period, resulting in more production from the stopes as opposed to from development. The latter typically produces zinc and lead ore of elevated grades due to reduced dilution, and hence head grades were lower in H1 2021.

Sasa produces a zinc concentrate and a separate lead concentrate. In Q2 2021, 11,049 tonnes of concentrate containing 50.2% zinc and 9,389 tonnes of concentrate containing 72.3% lead were produced. Total H1 2021 production was 22,571 tonnes of zinc concentrate at an average grade of 50.0% and 19,119 tonnes of lead concentrate at an average grade of 72.2%.

Sasa typically receives from smelters approximately 84% of the value of its zinc in concentrate and approximately 95% of the value of its lead in concentrate. Accordingly, Q2 2021 payable production of zinc was 4,665 tonnes and of lead was 6,452 tonnes, bringing total payable production for H1 2021 to 9,486 tonnes of zinc and 13,117 tonnes of lead.

Given that deliveries from Sasa to the smelters occur on a regular basis, payable base metal in concentrate sales for the six-month period were similar at 9,419 tonnes of zinc and 13,160 tonnes of lead.

During H1 2021, Sasa sold 151,009 ounces of payable silver to Osisko Gold Royalties, in accordance with its streaming agreement.

The Company expects that 2021 zinc and lead production at Sasa could be towards the lower end of the guidance range, which is between 23,000 tonnes and 25,000 tonnes for zinc and between 30,000 tonnes and 32,000 tonnes for lead.

 
                               Units      Q 2 2021   Q 1 2021   H 1 2021   H 1 2020 
 Ore mined                     t           206,283    207,704    413,987   4 16,055 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Plant feed                    t           213,450    210,413    423,863   4 19,856 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Zinc grade                    %              3.05       3.23       3.14      3 .37 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Zinc recovery                 %              85.2       84.5       84.9      8 6.3 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Lead grade                    %              3.42       3.57       3.50      3 .82 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Lead recovery                 %              92.9       93.5       93.2      9 4.3 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Zinc concentrate              t (dry)      11,049     11,521     22,571    2 4,510 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 
        *    Grade             %              50.2       49.8       50.0      4 9.8 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 
        *    Contained zinc    t             5,549      5,742     11,292    1 2,203 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 Lead concentrate              t (dry)       9,389      9,730     19,119    2 1,035 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 
        *    Grade             %              72.3       72.1       72.2      7 2.0 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 
        *    Contained lead    t             6,791      7,016     13,807    1 5,140 
                              ---------  ---------  ---------  ---------  --------- 
 

Group cash and debt position

As of 30 June 2021, CAML had cash in the bank of $54.4 million and gross debt of $60.9 million. Gross debt comprises $52.2 million of corporate debt through Traxys Europe S.A. and $8.7 million of North Macedonian drawn overdraft facilities with Ohridska Banka and Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje.

For further information contact:

 
Central Asia Metals                     Tel: +44 (0) 20 7898 9001 
Nigel Robinson, CEO 
Gavin Ferrar, CFO 
Louise Wrathall, Director of Corporate  louise.wrathall@centralasiametals.com 
 Relations 
 
Peel Hunt (Nominated Advisor and        Tel: +44 (0) 20 7418 8900 
 Joint Broker) 
Ross Allister 
David McKeown 
 
BMO Capital Markets (Joint Broker)      Tel: +44 (0) 20 7236 1010 
Thomas Rider 
Pascal Lussier Duquette 
 
Blytheweigh (PR Advisors)               Tel: +44 (0) 20 7138 3204 
Tim Blythe 
Megan Ray 
Rachael Brooks 
 

Note to editors:

Central Asia Metals, an AIM-listed UK company based in London, owns 100% of the Kounrad SX-EW copper project in central Kazakhstan and 100% of the Sasa zinc-lead mine in North Macedonia.

For further information, please visit www.centralasiametals.com and follow CAML on Twitter at @CamlMetals and on LinkedIn at Central Asia Metals Plc

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