Element 25 Ltd (ASX:E25) has produced a commercial-grade lump product through simple beneficiation after undertaking a bulk sample test program initiated in December 2019 at the Butcherbird Manganese Project near Newman in Western Australia.
The flowsheet upgraded the ore by simple crushing, wet scrubbing, screening and ore sorting to produce a high-grade concentrate.
This material is suitable for hydrometallurgical leaching and as a concentrate production with favourable.
“Potential to be a key player in Australian manganese production”
Managing director Justin Brown said: “The fact that the project might now have a low capital start up concentrate export stage to generate early cashflow could be a game changer.
“With existing manganese mines in Australia past their peak and in decline, the Butcherbird Project has the potential to be a key player in Australian manganese production.
“This is a very exciting development.”
In December 2019 about 40 tonnes of near-surface material was excavated from the project site as feed for the upcoming pilot plant program to produce Electrolytic Manganese Metal (EMM).
The optimisation of the beneficiation circuit was targeted at maximising hydrometallurgical feed grade in order to minimise capital and operating costs.
The test results exceeded expectations and the new data will be incorporated into the EMM Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS).
Beneficiation flowsheet for producing an ore export product
The optimised flowsheet uses crushing, scrubbing, screening and high-speed ore sorting technology to reject waste material and increase the concentrate grade.
This approach highlighted an opportunity to produce a bulk manganese concentrate at a suitable manganese grade for direct export to provide early cash flow to fund the overall project development strategy.
The test work utilised two nominal 1-tonne samples A003 and B006 from pits BBS-A and BBS-B respectively.
The material is believed to be representative of Yanneri Ridge Measured Resource with the concentrate product returning favourable impurity levels and excellent recoveries of over 80%.
Improving overall project economics
This latest round of testing has added significant value to the PFS work and is expected to improve overall project economics by increasing the hydrometallurgical feed grade into the leach circuit.
Element 25 is also undertaking a PFS (CON) level economic study to assess the potential returns that may be generated by an early stage ore export start-up operation.
It is envisaged that this will be completed and published ahead of the final PFS investigation into the larger hydrometallurgical processing plant.
Permitting and approvals for a staged start-up are well advanced and the PFS (CON) case is expected to be completed in coming weeks to be followed by the release of the PFS.