Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has updated investors on developments at its Baita Plai mine in Romania, saying that it is in the process of preparing a revised mining plan for the site.

The AIM-listed miner said the revised plan incorporates a move away from the traditional labour-intensive mining methods within the existing plan to a more modern mechanised mining method. Vast said this is designed to overcome various operational issues, enhance productivity and efficiency and optimise the in-situ metal value and take advantage of rising commodity prices.

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The new plan will supersede the previous mining plan, the targets for which were announced in September last year.

Meanwhile, the company said production of concentrate at Baita Plai for the fourth quarter of 2020 and anticipated production for the rest of the first quarter of 2021 is considerably lower than the targets set out in the previous plan, with the shortfall due principally to a lack of equipment reliability and supply chain and labour issues in part due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

Vast said these issues are in the process of being rectified under the revised mining plan, the results of which are expected to more than make up the shortfall in the period covered by the previous plan.

To prepare for the enhanced mechanisation under the revised plan, the company said it has acquired and currently awaiting delivery of three additional underground load haul dumps (LHDs) and a jumbo face drilling rig with long hole capabilities. 

Vast added that management of the mine has been made challenging by the fact that Craig Harvey, its chief operating officer, based in South Africa and who is the current manager of Baita Plai, was not able, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, to be physically present in Romania from November 2020 to end of January 2021, thus necessitating remote management. 

However, the company said its new full-time mine manager, Marcus Brewster, will arrive on site shortly and is already actively engaged in and identified with the formulation of the revised mining plan, including the equipment upgrades to enable the implementation of a more effective mechanised mining method.

Vast said it is aiming to complete and announce the revised mining plan around the end of March.

The company’s shares were 11.4% lower at 0.1p in late-afternoon trading on Friday.