NQ Minerals plc (AQSE:NQMI) Executive Chairman David Lenigas caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss their year-end operations update, achieving better than expected production rates, a new Hellyer tailings construction project and what investors can expect going forward.
Q1: First off, congratulations on progressing so well through 2020 in the year end operations update. David, can you just talk us through those highlights?
A1: It was a big transformational year for NQ Minerals, our Hellyer operations finally ran to production and exceeded our original expectations when the project was first muted to be started. A lot of the improvement came in the second half when we got production up to circa 1.4/1.5 million tonnes a year through the processing plant. We have very significant production of lead, zinc gold and silver now and 2021 is really where we’re focusing now in improving production even further.
We’ve got better metal prices, lead, zinc, gold, and silver are up from where they were at the beginning of last year so 2021 will be a year of even more improvement and more profitability for Hellyer.
Now we’re looking at other ways to extend mine life, looking at concepts of bringing the underground back into production to extend our mine life out from 7-8 years, well beyond that. Also, bringing our Beaconsfield gold mine into production is a really big focus this year and that’ll be our second flagship operation so things are looking very good.
Q2: Now, you said that the Hellyer operations have finally achieved production rates better than your original forecast. Could you just expand on that for us a little?
A2: Well, the original plan for Hellyer was 1.2 million tonnes a year through the processing plant and we managed to achieve that in about June last year and by the end of the year, we’re up at about 1.4 million tonnes a year. So, all of that goes straight to the top and bottom line.
We’re fairly confident we can increase production further, the engineers on site and the management are working on that all the tonnes that we can produce extra adds significant revenue and profits to the company so that’s a big focus this quarter.
Q3: You mentioned a new Hellyer tailings construction project, what more can you tell us about that?
A3: It’s a massive, massive construction project, it’s a multi tens of millions of dollar project we’re well and truly into it. It’s part of the original mine plan, it was delayed for some time because Hellyer took some time to get up to full operational speed, but it’s now well and truly under construction.
We hope to be depositing tailings from the Hellyer plant into the new TSF2 maybe February but probably by March, and that gives us the longevity of the Hellyer operations and also provides us a big empty tailing dam, which is the existing one, for future operations, for underground and potentially other projects in the area. Tailings dams are very difficult to build and permit and it’s a big construction project and Hellyer is doing well to pay for it and that’s why profitability is key.
Q4: Just looking forward, what are the news can investors expect from NQ Minerals?
A4: Well, we’re expecting a lot of news on Hellyer expansion, moving Beaconsfield forward, we’re actively working on the tier one stock exchange listing, which I don’t think it’ll be too long before there’s some news on that. We like AQUIS, it been very good for us and we’re also looking at having our securities traded on a premium global stock exchange so the team’s been working very actively on that.
I think it’s going to be a very active year for news and for growth, the resources market is looking positive, there’s a lot of fiscal stimulus globally from governments with the COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of the recoveries needs resources to be put to work.
We are a company that spans a lot of resources that the world needs, lead, zinc, gold, silver, and with our Barnes Hill initiative, nickel, and cobalt. So, we’ve got good products that can be seen to be moved into the commercial market so we’re in pretty good shape.