Exploratory drilling will be concluded in six months. A feasibility study is expected to be launched in October and is scheduled to be complete by mid-2009. Australia’s WorleyParsons is working on the pre-feasibility study.

“This is clearly a sizeable and viable operation,” says Kevin Moriarty, chief executive officer of Terramin. “We are very positive about the prospects.”

The development of the mine is likely to take place in two phases. The high mineral concentrations already found are expected to allow a small operation to start before a larger second phase of development begins.

“This is a very strongly mineralised area,” says Moriarty. “There is a lot of work to be done.”

The project is being developed with state-owned Entreprise Nationale des Produits Miniers Non-Ferreux.

Algeria’s second bidding round for mining acreages is under way. The country’s mineral deposits are largely under-developed and, although the government is seeking foreign investment in the sector, it is yet to develop a bidding process that offers wide industry appeal (MEED 21:12:07).