Tirex Resources (CVE:TXX)(OTCQX:TIRXF) has received the official seal from the Albanian Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy to convert its six exploration licenses in the region to 25-year mining licenses, paving the way for near-term production.
The six specific areas, for which conversion to exploitation licenses has been ordered with immediate effect, are located in the Mirdita volcanogentic massive sulfide (VMS) district.
VMS deposits are a type of metal sulfide ore deposit, and are created by volcanic-associated hydrothermal events in submarine environments.
The licenses encompass the deposits known as Fushe Arrez, Qafe Bari, Tuc, Paluce, Gurth 1 and Gurth 2 (Central Gurthi and Koshaj), Gurth 3 and Letitna (South Gurthi and Letitna).
Tirex said it received the official notification of the ministry's decision, and was signed by the Republic of Albania's Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy, Minister Edmond Haxhinasto.
The decision was taken after a "careful and detailed review" of the company's exploitation license applications, the miner said.
Mining operations in these six areas is expected to create employment, infrastructure growth and economic development in northern Albania.
The company already has a partnership agreement relating to copper, gold and silver production from the six areas for which it was granted a mining license, meaning it can fast track to production without corresponding share dilution.
Initially, the partnership is targeting 500 tonnes per day of production, with a target to ramp up to 2,000 tonnes per day of production after two years.
"Our guys on the ground in Albania have done such a good job on this and we couldn't be more excited to be now moving toward production since first applying for the licenses 14 months ago," CEO Bryan J. Slusarchuk told Proactiveinvestors.
He says an update to markets on a more detailed copper, silver and gold production profile should be expected in the next few weeks.
"All the licenses for the six different areas are for 25 years. This gives us longevity, and staying power in Albania, allowing us to invest in the development of the company."
Slusarchuk says team members are already on the ground, with production 100 per cent focused on the six areas for which mining licenses were granted.
"Obviously our story is unique in that we have targeted production without the corresponding share dilution normally associated which such a transition."
The mineral explorer and now near-term producer said mill capacity is already available for the first phase, with the mill fully constructed and operational.
Output will initially started in Tirex's Tuc deposit area through a "trackless mining system", the company said, using a transverse long hole sublevel retreat mining method.
According to historical (non 43-101 compliant) estimates, the Tuc area alone contains around 2.35 million tonnes of 1.46% grade copper. The deposit is reported to be open for expansion, as the area has never been drilled from underground set ups.
The company said that ground geophysics, surface and underground drilling, as well as borehole geophysics, will be used to define and expand the resource size to be compliant with NI 43-101 methods, as mine production starts.
As well as targeting production at the six areas of Mirdita, Tirex is also planning to explore other regions in the district. Based on historical data and the exploration work done thus far, the company said it believes that the district is "highly prospective" for new discoveries.
Indeed, the company's CEO says that exploration still makes up a big part of Tirex, and since Tirex is fully funded for production, any future funds raised will go toward exploration.So far, Tirex has invested US$25 million into its exploration of the Mirdita District. Prior results released by the company at Mirdita include intercepts of 65 metres of 0.6% copper, 9.0% zinc, 48.4 grams per tonne (g/t) silver and 2.7 g/t gold.
Results also included 7.7 metres of 5.23% copper, 1.84% zinc, 57.0 g/t silver and 4.6 g/t gold.
Excluding work done at the six areas now approved to transition into mine production, the company has more than 40 "high priority" geophysical targets in the exploration permit application stage.
"This is a significant day not only for Tirex shareholders but also for the local communities in northern Albania that will benefit from this decision to grant all six mining licenses to Tirex, as applied for," said Slusarchuk in a statement.
"The company was very fortunate to receive the unanimous support of the communities near the company's operations."
Tirex noted that the news today represents the first conversion of exploration licenses in Albania into exploitation licenses in the Albanian copper, gold, silver and zinc industry under current mining law.
The Canada-based junior explorer is backed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Shares in the company were up more than 3.6 per cent early morning Monday, at 85 cents.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.