Trade between Australia and Sri Lanka has surged to a record high of A$1.3 billion in 2016-17, on the back of strong growth in trade in services, up more than 27 per cent. Growth for the year overall was more than 15 per cent, continuing the strong trend growth of 8.6 per cent over the past five years, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said today.Education continues to grow as a pillar of the economic relationship with more than 9500 enrolments by Sri Lankan students to study in Australia and thousands more pursuing Australian-affiliated studies locally. The rapid growth in Australian tourists visiting Sri Lanka (up almost 10 per cent for the year) saw Sri Lanka’s services exports to Australia grow by more than 36 per cent. ‘During Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to Sri Lanka in November 2017, we signed the Australia-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement. The Arrangement provides a practical forum for our two governments to address trade issues. Our shared aim is to open up new commercial opportunities for business. I’m pleased that inaugural talks under the Arrangement will take place in Canberra in April 2018.’‘With the recent launch of direct flights between Colombo and Melbourne, we anticipate we will see continued strong trade growth in 2017-18.’ (Colombo Gazette) Merchandise trade remained steady at around $480 million, based on Sri Lanka’s traditional strengths in tea, textiles and rubber.Garments exports have grown strongly in the past year reflecting the decision by Australian retailers to source garments from Sri Lanka. Australia’s major exports of vegetables, dairy, wheat and machinery have also performed well. There are now more high quality Australian goods appearing on Sri Lankan supermarket shelves. Welcoming the trade figures, Australia’s High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said ‘this year’s figures reflects the steady growthin commercial engagement between our two countries. As close friends and Indian ocean neighbours, we’re now seeing the trade and investment relationship expand as Sri Lanka’s economy moves forwards and Australian companies take an increased interest in the Sri Lankan market.’
Metal Tiger plc has provided an update regarding the company’s JV project with partner MOD Resources Ltd in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana (70% MOD Resources/30% Metal Tiger). Encouraging early results of T3 Underground Project mining study supports the initiation of a 30-hole Resource drilling programme targeting high-grade veins with underground mining potential. The T3 Underground Scoping Study is set for completion by Q3 2018. Assay results are in from a further 8 diamond drill holes received. Downhole intersection highlights include Hole MO-G-82D with 7.2 m @ 1.9% Cu and 39 g/t Ag from 219 m. To date 45 holes at T3 have returned significant vein hosted copper mineralisation intersections below, down-dip and along strike from the planned T3 Open Pit.Michael McNeilly Chief Executive Officer of Metal Tiger commented: “We are very encouraged by the initial findings of the T3 Underground Project investigations and the prospect that room-and-pillar underground mining of the high-grade copper/silver veins, developed simultaneously to the planned T3 Open-Pit mine could make a substantial contribution to the T3 profitability. Sharing a planned central scalable processing plant at T3 between both the T3 surface and underground mining operations and possible neighbouring deposits is an attractive proposition in the precursory modelling. With the current drilling programme yielding reliably consistent vein intersections the JV has agreed to initiate a 30-hole infill drill programme targeting an underground mine resource project and to work towards the release of a T3 Underground Project scoping-study by mid-2018.”South African mining consultants have been conducting initial investigations into the potential viability of a T3 Underground Project with the underground mining of the high-grade veins below and along strike from the planned T3 Open Pit. They are also researching the potential economic benefits that underground mining would add to the open-pit.The initial T3 Underground Project concept includes:Room-and-pillar mining of the good continuity, shallow-dipping, high-grade veins, with in-ore development.Developing T3 Underground simultaneously with T3 open-pit production.Use of shared infrastructure including the planned scalable T3 Processing Plant (as reported on 3 October 2017 the current Planned Process Plant design is for 2.5 Mt/y but will allow for a possible future expansion of up to 4.0 Mt/y).Targeting ore production and margin rather than extending overall mine life (modelled at 10 years).The T3 Underground Resource Drilling Programme is now planned based on underground potential:Planned 30 diamond hole programme will drill-out an underground Resource.Drilling with three rigs over a 1.7km strike length on 100 m spacing with 50 m infill where required, is expected to commence early 2018.Results will feed into a T3 Underground Project scoping study, targeted for release by Q3 2018.Regional exploration will continue throughout H1 2018 with numerous geophysical and geochemical anomalies targeted for drill testing, within the circa 1,000 km2 T3 Dome area surrounding the T3 Deposit.