Australian company acquires option to buy 60% stake in zinc mine, refinery

Australian company Top End Minerals has acquired an option to buy a majority interest in a zinc mine and refinery in Shan State for US$43 million (about K56.5 billion), it said last week.

Top End paid a US$500,000 non-refundable deposit for the nine-month option to buy a 60 percent stake in Cornerstone Resources (Myanmar) Ltd, the Melbourne-based company said in a November 25 statement.

Cornerstone, in which the main shareholders are China’s Datong Industrial Co and Australia’s Yandal Investments, operates a zinc mine at Longh Keng, about 450 kilometres northeast of Yangon, and a zinc refinery at Lashio, about 700km northeast of the commercial capital.

The mining lease at Longh Keng covers eight-square-kilometres and includes two deposits of high-grade zinc, the statement said.

It said the refinery went into production in February 2015 and was producing 10,000 tonnes of high-grade zinc a year. Plans were under discussion to increase capacity to 18,000 tonnes a year.

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There was potential for the refinery to also source zinc from of slag heaps at the nearby Bawdwin mine and Namtu smelter over the long term, the statement said.

The Bawdwin lead, zinc and silver mine was the largest of its kind in the world in the 1900s but fell into neglect after World War II and under successive military governments, it said.

The mine was privatised in 2002 but had underperformed and was in a state of disrepair “despite its obvious potential,” the statement said.

Top End Minerals jumped 121 percent to AUD$0.062 on the Australian stock market on November 25 after the company announced the deal with Cornerstone.

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