Central Asia Metals has continued the strong run of results it initiated in 2012, reporting record annual copper production for the year to December 2014 of 11,136 tonnes. That represents a six per cent increase year-on-year and a significant percentage increase on the nameplate capacity of the company’s Kounrad operation in Kazakhstan, which was originally envisaged to produce around 10,000 tonnes.
Since the first cathode was produced in 2012, the company has continuously surpassed production expectations, partly because chief executive Nick Clarke is very adroit at managing expectations, and partly because he and his team bring with them decades of combined experience in operating in Kazakhstan and know how to get things done.
Not for Central Asia the issues that hit fellow Kazakh junior miner Hambledon, which became so unstuck by the ravages of the physical environment that it eventually had to change its name to avoid the reputational damage that followed repeated operational failures.
No, Central Asia came prepared into Kazakhstan. It knew how to handle the rigours of the climate, and at Kounrad it had hit upon a project, largely comprised of old dumps, where there’s no mining risk, and where margins are therefore very healthy even if copper is on a downtrend at the moment and the short-term money seems to be moving back into gold.
Cash has flowed into the company, meaning that expansion is now very much on the cards. The plan this year is to produce 13,000 tonnes of copper cathode as the effect of new boilers and other onsite improvements starts to be felt, and new solvent extraction-electro winning (SX-EW) capacity is brought on stream at the end of the second quarter.
This expansion is set to cost around US$13.4 million and is fully funded from existing cash resources. At the year end the company’s total cash resources stood at US$47.6 million. There is no debt.