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Wolf receives important approvals from planning authorities

Wolf Minerals has received approval to operate its tungsten plant on a 24/7 basis, permanently, and  permission to extend mining activities to 2036. Both permissions will have a significant impact on future production at its Drakelands open-pit mine, in Devon.

On 23 November, Devon County Council (DCC) extended the mine’s planning permission from 2021 to 2036. This was a landmark decision that will allow the company to mine beyond its current reserve life and to adjust its debt repayment schedule to align more closely with the longer life.

At the same time, the DCC granted permission for the plant to continue its trial of seven-day working on a permanent basis. The original permit restricted the plant to five-and-a-half day working, although the company has been trialling 24/7 operations since 2015.

The increase in plant working hours means that the company can up annual ore throughput from 3Mt to approximately 3.8Mt, with a consequent increase in tungsten in concentrates production for at least 10 more years.

The mine, which opened in September 2015, has struggled to reach planned production rates owing to low plant recoveries, caused by finer than expected ore and mechanical failures in the plant. Since the beginning of 2016 the performance of the plant has improved and the September quarter saw a significant upturn in ore processed and tungsten produced.

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