Amur Boosts Copper, Nickel Resources

London-listed Amur Minerals has boosted nickel resources by 34 percent at its flagship metals project in the Far East after extensive drilling that also added 31 percent to its copper resources.

Amur Minerals said in a statement that nickel resources at the Kun-Manie project had grown to 341,000 tons, from 254,500 tons previously, and that copper resources had risen to 95,500 tons from 73,000 tons.

The increase follows a drilling project at the Maly Krumkon area, where the total resource grew 140 percent.

"What is even more encouraging than these excellent results is the expansion potential," Amur Minerals CEO Robin Young said in the statement.

"I believe we are just seeing the tip of what is a much larger resource at Maly Krumkon," he said, adding that they would drill at least another 4 kilometers to the east.

Nickel prices shot to a record high of $51,800 per ton in May, fuelled by low stocks and booming Chinese demand. Prices halved by August but have since bounced back to more than $30,000 -- almost triple that of two years ago.

Amur Minerals, listed on London's Alternative Investment Market, acquired a five-year license in 2004 to develop Kun-Manie in the Amur region.

The company has spent almost 90 million rubles ($3.7 million) on exploration at Kun-Manie this year, the bulk of it at Maly Krumkon.

At Maly Krumkon, the total estimated contained nickel resource has risen to 136,500 tons and the copper to 37,700 tons, Amur Minerals said. The average nickel grade has been increased to 0.52 percent from 0.45 percent last year. The Kun-Manie project also contains significant amounts of cobalt, platinum and palladium, which are not reported separately.

The company has set 2011 as the earliest date by which it could start mining.