AIM-listed mineral resource company Keras Resources reports that the Council of Ministers Decree authorising the grant of the exploitation permit for its flagship Nayega Manganese project, in northern Togo, is transformational and a major milestone for the company.
CEO Russel Lamming explaines that strategy of proving up the West-africa based project through the fully funded 10 000-tonne bulk sample programme has been validated, and without investing any further capital, Keras can transition seamlessly from explorer to producer.
The installed processing capacity allows us to commence production of beneficiated 38% manganese ore at a rate of 6 500tpm – this is planned for the first quarter of 2020 – Lamming.
Concurrently, he said that the company will look to implement phase 1 of the expansion programme through the installation of a new 70tph scrubber plant to be constructed in parallel with our existing 25tph plant.
This enables flexibility to use the existing plant as both a production plant in the short-term, but also as a sampling plant when it starts assessing the feasibility of producing battery grade manganese. The company is currently in discussions with various offtakers to provide finance for the expansion programme.
“In addition, with the inherently volatile nature of the downstream manganese alloy market and the growing demand for a cost effective, responsibly mined replacement for cobalt in the production of lithium-ion batteries, we have commissioned a scoping study on the potential to develop a refinery for the Nayega Project to produce fertiliser and battery grade manganese sulphate.
“These are exciting times for our shareholders. In tandem with the expected start of full-time production at Nayega in 2020 over a current mine life of 15 years and resultant defined cashflow, we are also in the process of distributing our 33.8% interest in ASX listed gold focused Calidus Resources Limited, resulting in a distribution of approximately £9.9m. Post the distribution shareholders will have direct exposure to a cash generative manganese focussed company.”
The Nayega Manganese Project
Keras’ key focus has been on advancing its Nayega Manganese project in Togo, West Africa, to commercial production. Post the award of the exploitation permit, the company will hold an 76.5% interest in Société Générale des Mines SARL, which holds the 1 385 ha exploitation permit and the 9,427ha Borgou Research permit.
The project hosts a current JORC compliant mineral resource of 13.5Mt at 11.1% Mn and an ore reserve of 8.48Mt at 14.0% Mn with additional upside identified through exploration work. The known deposit at Nayega covers 2.2km by 500m and averages 3.3 metres in thickness.
An internal definitive feasibility study demonstrated the current life-of-mine (LOM) of 15 years, however, with ongoing exploration on the Ogaro anomaly, located approximately 5.5km east of the Nayega Resource, the company is confident that there is the potential for the LOM to increase.
Commercial operations at Nayega are expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020 with production ramping up to the installed bulk sample operational capacity of approximately 6 500tpm of saleable manganese ore.
The beneficiation process, the company stated, has already been proven up following a 10 000-tonne bulk sampling metallurgical testwork programme successfully concluded earlier this year, which was tested by an end user with positive saleable results announced in Q3 2019.
“Crucially, the company has established and proven up the logistics network required to transport bulk manganese to Lomé, the only deep-water port in the region and the gateway to the Togo Corridor seen as the main artery for imports into Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Importantly, cheaper backloading rates reduce logistics costs significantly.”
Concurrently with initial production, Phase 1 of the expansion programme is anticipated to be implemented with the procurement and fabrication of a new 70tph scrubbing and screening plant planned for Q1 2020, subject to financing, with steady state production of 17 200tpm expected in Q2 2020.
“This will also include ancillary water, power and logistics infrastructure comprising additional generator capacity; new water supply boreholes with associated overland piping; tailings dam with water reclamation system; and weighbridge. To ensure that grade control is efficiently managed, an onsite laboratory with sample preparation equipment and bench-top X-ray fluorescence analyser will also be installed.”