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UPDATE: Afferro Mining Hails "Excellent" Metallurgical Results From Ntem

Afferro Mining (LON:AFF) this morning described the metallurgical result from its Ntem deposit in south-west Cameroon as "excellent".

The group said they highlight the project's potential as low cost operation with the capacity to deliver a "highly marketable iron ore product". It is currently preparing to produce a mineral resource estimate, which should be complete by the end of the first half.

The data reveal the Ntem produces a high-grade concentrate in the range of 65.2-68.2% when ground to between 75 and 150 micrometres. There was "excellent" mass recovery of 46.7% and 81.6% at 150┬Ám.

Davis tube tests showed that an average 81.7% of the iron is present as magnetite.

Chief executive Luis da Silva said: "Ahead of the Mineral resource estimate, these excellent metallurgy results highlight the potential for a low-cost mining operation at Ntem, delivering a highly marketable iron ore product."

Located only 80 kilometres from the deep-water port being constructed south of Kribi, Afferro believes the economics of a small-scale operation at Ntem could be "very exciting".

"We have now completed the first two phases of drilling at Ntem and we remain on track to complete the mineral resource estimate and the infrastructure scoping study results during the second quarter," da Silva said.

"We believe that Ntem could add significant value to our portfolio of assets, providing a potential low capex opportunity to enter early stage production generating cash flow to support our strategy to bring the large-scale Nkout iron ore project to production."

At 2.5bn tonnes, Nkout is a monster iron ore deposit located around 300 kilometres from export facilities. As such it will require huge investment and infrastructure such as rail line, which is three to five years away from being built.

Last month the group received a bid approach from IMIC (LON:IMIC), which values Afferro at between 100 and 140 pence a share.

The shares were little changed at 68.78 pence. However, City broker SP Angel was encouraged by today's announcement.

Mining analyst John Meyer said: "It is good to see that despite all the main focus around how the bid and strategic interest in the company will progress that the company are focussing on the task at hand.

"Progressing Ntem gives them the best shot at developing a iron ore project without the scale of investment required for their Nkout project and the time and cost for infrastructure. "It is likely that the mineralisation at Ntem is different to Nkout and the MRE will provide further information on the scope to develop this deposit.

"Talks with Posco cover all three potential projects within Afferro's umbrella and a potential resource at Ntem will be helpful in these discussions."

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.