Pure-play diamond miner Frontier Diamonds has successfully commissioned a new bulk sample processing plant at its Sedibeng mine in South Africa.

“For what was a very low initial capital outlay Frontier now has the ability to conduct both systematic bulk sampling and processing of various exploration targets in the area,” chief executive officer Jan Louw said.

Frontier (ASX:FDX) can also now process the more than 2 million tonnes of diamond-bearing tailings material currently sitting at the Sedibeng mine.

The plant was purchased, relocated to Sedibeng and refurbished over a seven-month period for a total cost of about $US1.2 million ($1.5 million).

By comparison, the estimated replacement value of the plant is about $US4.7 million.

The plant was purchased for just $US600,000 from local dump retreatment operator Superkolong Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Batla Minerals SA.

“The speed and cost with which this plant has been put into operation readily evidences one of Frontier’s key competitive advantages – its close relationship with its associate company’s deep in-house engineering and operational expertise,” Mr Louw said.

Frontier is focused on the development and production of two operating diamond mines in South Africa – The Star and Sedibeng mines – which it acquired from Petra Diamonds, the country’s biggest diamond producer and the world’s fourth largest.

Diamonds recovered from Sedibeng in June

The company was one of the first to list on the ASX in 2018 following the completion of a $6 million initial public offering.

Management personally invested $US9 million to bring the two diamond mines into operation. They have taken the mines from zero production to a net profit of $7.6 million in just four years.

Adding to profitability

The newly commissioned plant can support 50 tonnes per hour kimberlite ore throughput or 150 tonnes per hour tailings feed throughput.

Wet commissioning of the plant was achieved in January and several hundred tonnes of
overburden material from the Bellsbank pit has now been processed.

Processing of around 30,000 tonnes per month of bulk sample material or 90,000 tonnes per month of Sedibeng tailings material is now set to begin.

The existing tailings dumps contain some 124,000 carats.

The treating of these dumps and pipe production are not factored into Frontier’s $9 million 2019 profit projections and might add between $4 million and $7 million to its bottom line.

(These forecasts relate to future events that are subject to a number of uncertainties and may differ materially from results ultimately achieved.)


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