Wolf Minerals (Wolf) has received approval to operate its processing 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.
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. In addition, cashflow has been affected negatively by continuing low tungsten prices on the world markets.
We visited the mine in November. Management believe that Wolf is resolving its problems in the plant. A trend of increasing quarterly ore throughput and wolfram production might support this, although performance is still below feasibility study levels. Management acknowledge that their key challenge is to improve plant recoveries.
The company produces a wolfram concentrate. Wolfram is the raw material for tungsten production, which is used mainly in cemented carbides, for cutting tools used in the mining, oil and gas and manufacturing industries. Drakelands is one of the few producers outside of China.
About Wolf Minerals
Wolf is a publicly traded company listed on London’s AIM and on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Wolf’s sole mineral asset is the Drakelands tungsten and tin mine, in Devon, UK, which the company commissioned in September 2015. When fully operational, the mine will produce around 3% of global demand for tungsten (or 15% of non-Chinese demand), with the potential to expand production by over 25%.
The company’s registered office is in Perth, Australia, and operational offices are at the mine site, outside Plymouth, in the UK.