The Santa Comba Tungsten Project has successfully delivered first production from the fully permitted underground mine.
Rafaella Resources Limited has confirmed the successful delivery of first production as set out in March with the safe installation of a pilot plant and first production from high-grade stockpiles left from previous operations dating back to 1985.
Managing Director Steven Turner said working closely with the authorities to ensure all the permits and approvals were obtained is a testament to the capabilities of the growing team at the site and in Madrid.
“This is the first real step in bringing the Santa Comba tungsten and tin mine back into production 36 years from when the underground mine was last commercially operated,” Mr Turner said.
“We are delighted to be the company leading the way, applying the highest health, safety and environment standards, as we continue to invest in and support the region.”
Rafaella Resources continues to progress the feasibility study. Metallurgical test-work has provided news that the ore is highly susceptible to magnetic separation. Delays at the test-lab in the UK have led to some slippage in the completion of the feasibility study.
However, additional time is being used to complete important water management studies and to advance discussions with the quarry operator concerning a solution to gain early access to tungsten ore within the quarry permit.
As part of the underground study to scale up operations, the company is conducting a limited drilling campaign of 12 drill holes using reverse circulation drill rigs. These drill holes will be used to emplace piezometers to measure the water table, a key input into the hydrological modelling. Rafaella has completed six drill holes to date for a total of 764m of a planned 1,550m.
The company is also the newest member of the Critical Raw Materials Alliance which is a representative body of primary producers, traders and associations or critical raw materials (CRMs). The alliance was created by industry to advocate the importance of CRMs for the European economy and to promote a strong European CRM policy.
Tungsten is identified as a critical raw material by the European Commission and as such is gaining increasing attention by policy makers across Europe as governments look to address the supply chain risk arising from the Chinese concentration amounting to circa 85 per cent of global supply of tungsten concentrate.