The Manuka Silver Project is 90km southwest of Cobar in New South Wales, in the world-class Cobar Basin mineral province that hosts CBH Resources’ Endeavour zinc, lead and silver mine, Peak Gold Mines’ operations, the CSA underground copper mine and Aurelia Metals’ high-grade Hera deposit.
Manuka has an estimated 52 million ounces of silver, with mineralisation remaining open along strike and at depth. MKR purchased the project in August 2016 which also comprises a mine, camp and refurbished process plant.
MKR plans to commence processing later in the year the existing 500,000t of Manuka ore currently on ROM pad stockpiles. The project is targeting processing rates of 750-850ktpa in 2018, with target production of 1.5Moz silver per year.
MKR holds 940km2 of exploration leases which comprise one mining licence and seven granted exploration licences. There are 16 prospects across the project, and nine of these are high priority for further exploration with copper-gold and silver-lead-zinc “Winduck shelf” targets identified.
Exploration programs over priority targets have been designed for the next two years and MKR will commence these in early 2019.
The Manuka project was formerly known as Wonawinta, developed by Cobar Consolidated Resources from 2007 to 2011 before mining approval was granted and production commenced in early 2012. Shortcomings in the feasibility study became apparent once mining and processing had started, resulting in certain modifications being made to the plant flowsheet and processing protocols. These were partially successful however the plant required further improvements which CCR were not able to implement resulting in the company being placed into receivership and liquidation in Q1 2014.
The project acquired by Black Oak Minerals in late 2014, primarily to mill and treat gold ore from their wholly owned Mt Boppy gold project east of Cobar rather than focus on silver production. Black Oak made significant front end modifications, principally the addition of a large 1800KW ball mill. Black Oak mined and processed 350,000t of Manuka silver ore to commission the plant before starting to process the Mt Boppy gold ore in September 2015. This operation continued until late November 2015 when Black Oak appointed voluntary receivers after announcing a resource downgrade at Mt Boppy in the same month.
Manuka Resources commenced due diligence on the asset in early 2016 to better understand the historic operating issues and the required remediation action to improve the operation of the project and the upside potential in the resource base in addition to the large exploration lease package. The acquisition completed in August 2016.