Nick Bridgen, Chief Executive Officer of Ferro-Alloy Rsrcs (FAR.L) Interview

The Company’s operations are all located at the Balasausqandiq Deposit in Kyzylordinskaya Oblast in the South of Kazakhstan.

Currently, the Company has two main business activities

a) the high-grade Balasausqandiq Vanadium Project (the “Balausa Project”); and

b) an existing profitable vanadium concentrate processing operation (the “Existing Operation”)
 

 

Balasausqandiq is a very large deposit, with vanadium as the principal product, together with numerous byproducts. Owing the nature of the ore, the capital and operating costs of development are very much lower than for other projects.

A reserve on the JORC 2012 basis has been estimated only for the first ore-body (of five) which amounts to 23 million tonnes, not including the small amounts of near-surface oxidised material which is in the Inferred resource category. In the system of reserve estimation used in Kazakhstan, the reserves are estimated to be over 70m tonnes in ore-bodies 1 to 5 but this does not include the full depth of ore-bodies 2-5.

There is an existing concentrate processing operation at the site of the Balasausqandiq Deposit. The production facilities were originally created from a 15,000 tonnes per year pilot plant which was then adapted to treat low-grade concentrates and is now in the process of being expanded and further adapted to treat a wider variety of raw materials.

The Company has already completed the first steps of a development plan for the existing operation which is expected to result in annualised production capacity increasing gradually to around 1,500 tonnes of contained vanadium pentoxide. The development plan includes upgrades to infrastructure, an extension to the existing factory and the installation of equipment to increase the throughput and to add the facilities to convert AMV into vanadium pentoxide.

The strategy of the Company is to develop both the Existing Operation and the Project in parallel. Although they are located on the same site and use some of the same infrastructure, they are separate operations.

Production outlook

Although the progression to higher production slowed towards the end of 2020, the equipment is now in place to achieve significantly higher production, assisted by the near-term connection to the high-voltage power-line and as the global vaccination programme starts to lessen the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As disclosed above, supplies of raw materials continued to be restricted below contracted levels and this continued into January and February 2021, attributed to Covid-19 related restrictions. In the near term, this now shows signs of returning to more normal levels and future production should improve.

Looking further ahead, the Company is planning to procure an electric arc furnace which can double production capacity again. This furnace has been designed, contracts agreed and will take some six months to build once the order is placed. This furnace will be used to produce ferro-vanadium directly from raw-material concentrates without first producing vanadium pentoxide, and it will also be able to produce by-product ferro-nickel, utilising the nickel content of our raw-materials which is currently sold at very low prices as a low-grade concentrate.


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