Titanium Sands Ltd's (ASX:TSL) positive scoping study for the Mannar Island Heavy Mineral Sands (HMS) Project in Sri Lanka reveals the potential for an economically robust, long-life major dredging project.
The study shows the potential for a viable project based on a single dredge, a primary concentrator and a mineral separation plant.
Managing director Dr James Searle said: “The scoping study has indicated the potential for an economically robust long-life project which gives TSL the confidence to examine more definitive studies expanding the project concept to a second or even third dredge and commensurately larger processing capacities.”
Mannar Island is an ilmenite feedstock project with minor credits from other mineral components and the product is expected to find a ready market with titanium slag and sulphate route pigment producers in the Middle East, Korea, India and China.
Initial production would most likely occur on a zone measuring 10 kilometres by an average of 2 kilometres wide that contains 92.56 million tonnes at 5.24% total heavy mineral concentrate (THM) out of the total current mineral resource estimate of 264.93 million tonnes at 4.38% THM.
The mineral resources in this area represent 35% of the current mineral resource estimate.
No attempt has been made to schedule production grades in the scoping study as resource definition needs to be of a mining reserve standard for this to be meaningful.
Additionally, the mineral resource estimate block model for Domains 2 and 81 do not show any marked grade trend along the 10 kilometres strike of the zone to be mined in the scoping study project scenario.
The Mineral Resource Estimate Domains and resources which formed the basis of the Scoping Study Project Scenario
The Mannar island heavy mineral sands are contained in near-continuous bodies from 2-3 metres above the water table down to at least 10 metres below the water table.
Subsequentially, dredge mining is planned down to 10 metres below the level of the dredge pond which will feed a floating wet concentration plant (WCP).
The primary concentrate will then feed a centrally located mineral separation plant (MSP).
Sand tails will be discharged from the WCP to the dredge pond void to re-establish a landform for progressive rehabilitation, which is envisaged as being based on the eventual establishment of areas of productive palm and nut plantation agriculture as well as areas of natural vegetation.
Metallurgical test-work on composite drill hole samples from the possible initial production zone indicates ilmenite mineral product recoveries from material mined of 90.3%.
While this test-work is sufficient for a scoping study it cannot be regarded as optimised.
The potentially saleable products separated during test-work were ilmenite (including Hi Ti, leucoxene and pseudorutile), rutile, zircon and garnet.
TSL is confident the quality assessments of the minerals recovered and long-term pricing trends indicate the ilmenite minerals product could achieve a price of A$305/tonne and would be of a high quality and likely to find ready markets globally.
Mannar Island Project conceptual process flow sheet
The scoping study has indicated that this project scenario is economically robust and consequently subsequent more definitive studies should also examine the feasibility of second or even third dredges and expanded processing capacities to potentially exploit capital and operational efficiencies.
Development of the project and its schedule for development are dependent on several factors.
The project needs to receive regulatory approval from Sri Lankan regulators and will include submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment, granting of mining licences and licences for the transport and export of mineral products.
Finance for the project would also need to be secured and at this time there is no certainty as to the form this financing would take or its effect on dilution of existing shareholders.