JOHANNESBURG — Aim-listed Premier African Minerals has appointed non-executive director Michael Foster as non-executive chairperson effective from July 20, to succeed George Roach, who remains CEO.
Roach commented on Friday that the separation of chairperson and CEO is long overdue and is expected to enhance board oversight and direction.
Foster said his focus will be on strategic governance, improving all aspects of board oversight and assisting management in meeting targets and advancing the Zulu lithium project, as well as the RHA Tungsten mine, both in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, in expectation of the sign-off of the proposed RHA Tungsten project equity restructuring by the Zimbabwean government, the company has had RHA’s management undertake an in-depth assessment of alternatives to reopen RHA.
Three options, all based on a limited drilling programme being completed, have been proposed to the board.
The drill programme is broken down into two parts, the first part will include fifteen 50 m boreholes to establish at what depth below the current pit floor previously predicted ore grades are likely to materialise, and whether or not the openpit can be profitably brought back into production.
The second part comprises eight 250 m boreholes to confirm geological depth extensions which will guide the Premier board in its decision to either develop a new decline vehicle access for high tonnage from the underground operations or maintain a lower-tonnage operation through depth extensions to the existing vertical shaft.
It is further worth noting that the price of wolframite has increased steadily and, at this time, is at $354 per metric ton unit, being 10 kg of tungsten trioxide equivalent contained in a concentrate.
“This substantial and sustained price increase of wolframite and the fact that RHA can be brought back into production at short notice has resulted in a potential fourth option,” the company stated.
Meanwhile, of the options under consideration to reopen RHA, the first entails the restart of existing underground operations at 6 000 t/m, while maintaining the same mining rate over the life-of-mine. Four-month stope development will access required tonnages at a projected in situ grade of 7,1 kg/t of tungsten oxide.
Option two combines option one with the construction of a new decline shaft to allow vehicle access directly to the underground operations and a substantial increase in ore delivery to the plant at a significantly reduced mining cost.
Option three combines option one with the reopening of the openpit and is the option most likely to see best use of the X-ray transmission sorter to significantly increase throughput at the lowest capital expenditure.
Option four considers that wolframite production could start from as early as the second month of mining and without any further drilling, as a result of the improved price of the commodity.
Premier is currently reviewing various funding options for RHA, including a new offtake agreement with advance payment for concentrate, zero cost drilling as an offset for the drilling contract at Zulu lithium, direct equity investment at project level, spin-out into a new company of which Premier would retain a “no cost” interest, as well as possible funding by Premier if the wolframite price continues to escalate as has been the case over the past 12 months.