Mineral Exploration company, Element 25 Limited (ASX: E25) announced, on 23 March 2020, that it has successfully produced a commercial grade lump product from the bulk sample test programme that was undertaken at the Company’s flagship Butcherbird Manganese Project (100%-owned), beginning December 2019.
The successful optimised flowsheet upgraded the ore by simple crushing, wet scrubbing, screening and ore-sorting for production of a high-grade concentrate, which is suitable for hydrometallurgical leaching as well as a concentrate product, given favourable impurity levels and excellent recoveries, for a potential near-term export business.
In December 2019, Element 25 had reported that around 40 tonnes of near surface material (1-6 metre vertical depth) was excavated from the Project site to be used as feed for the upcoming pilot plant programme to produce Electrolytic Manganese Metal (EMM). Furthermore, the beneficiation circuit was optimised to target maximum hydrometallurgical feed grade which would minimise the capital and operating costs. The test results exceeded E25’s expectations and the new data is planned to be incorporated into the EMM Pre-Feasibility Study (PFSEMM).
The approach used for optimising the flow-sheet (referring to Figure 5 below) also highlighted an opportunity to produce bulk manganese concentrate that could be directly exported, which would then provide early cashflow to fund the overall Project development strategy.
The test work utilised two nominal 1 tonne samples, being A003 and B006, from pits BBS-A and BBS-B respectively as given in Figure 4 below and the material was apparently representative of Yanneri Ridge Measured Resource. The concentrate product contained favourable impurity levels and impressive recoveries of more than 80% as provided in Table 1.
Moreover, market studies have also confirmed that the concentrate grade and levels of deleterious elements are appropriate for producing ferromanganese and silicomanganese alloys. In fact, the material also has some unique characteristics, which makes it suitable for premium niche markets.
A Pre-Feasibility level study is currently being prepared (PFSCON) to confirm the potential economics for a low capital ore export business as a start-up stage, to be completed in parallel with the ongoing PFSEMM.
PFS Study for Manganese Concentrate Export
A PFSEMM is currently being advanced into the development of the Butcherbird Manganese Project to produce high-purity Electrolytic Manganese Metal (EMM) for steel industry and Manganese Sulphate (HPMSM) for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), both being high-growth markets. This latest testing stage has added immense value to this work and is expected to improve overall project economics via enhancing the hydrometallurgical feed grade into the leach circuit.
Overall, these programmes are expected to have major encouraging downstream impacts on reagent consumption and equipment sizing as the solids load of the hydrometallurgical circuit will be significantly reduced.
At the same time, Element 25 has also planned to execute a PFSCON level economic study for assessment of potential returns from an early stage ore export start-up operation. The Company envisages completion and publication of this study ahead of the final PFSEMM investigation into the larger hydrometallurgical processing plant.
The permitting and approvals for a staged start-up are being currently sought while the manganese concentrate export PFSCON case is scheduled for completion in the coming weeks, followed by the release of the PFSEMM.
The Butcherbird High Purity Manganese Project – A world class resource hosting more than 263 Mt of manganese ore (JORC compliant) and conducive infrastructure in proximity such as the Great Northern Highway and the Goldfields Gas Pipeline offering turn-key logistics and energy solutions. Element 25 is considering a number of PFS level development scenarios around manganese ore concentrate production, with the end objective being development of a high-purity manganese production hub to produce EMM and HPMSM.
Furthermore, the Company has planned to use renewable energy and power solution in combination to minimise the carbon footprint as well as lower energy costs. The Butcherbird Project is expected to be at the forefront of sustainable metal production on the back of a clean, low-carbon flowsheet and high penetration renewable energy.
Stock Information: With a market capitalisation of ~ AUD 10.12 million and ~ 92.03 million shares outstanding, the E25 stock closed the trading on 23 March 2020 at AUD 0.100.
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