It said the process of gazetting the new spatial plan for the Province of Maluku, where Wetar is located, while overdue, was close to completion and would result in the release of most of the project area from a production forest classification.
As mandated by law, all forestry zones in the project area will be converted to open ground and will not require forestry permitting, while the process of borrowing land for mine exploitation will be restricted to four hectares of the Lerokis deposit, which remains classified as production forest.
While capital cost numbers came in slightly higher to $A167.4 million from $155.4 million for the stage 1 expanded demonstration plant and stage 2 main plant, cash costs were reduced to $1.07 per pound from $1.09/lb.
This was based on proved and probable reserves from the Kali Kuning and Lerokis deposits of 8.18 million tonnes grading 2.5% copper for a contained 205,000t of copper.
The plan is to restart operations at the existing 1825 tonnes per annum demonstration plant within three months of a board decision to proceed.
Production will ramp up to 7000tpa, with commissioning of the expanded demonstration plant around 10 months after the start of construction activities.
Full capacity of 25,000tpa will be reached with re-commissioning of the Whim Creek plant around 20 months after construction gets underway.
More importantly, three areas were outlined to further improve Wetar's economics and extend the mine life beyond the nine year base case model.
Finders said each year of extra production had the potential to generate $155 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
These included the potential to increase copper recoveries to 87.5% from 75%, as well as the possibility of more copper grading 3.5% from the Kali Kuning deposit following reconciliation of a 100,000t bulk sample, and exploration upside, mainly at the Meron satellite deposit where a 5000m drill program is planned to test the potential for up to 5Mt of copper ore.
Previous drilling from Meron returned 12m at 2.7% copper from 74m and 5m at 6.3% copper from 22.5m.