Element 25 Ltd. has reported results of a prefeasibility study (PFS) of its Butcherbird manganese project in the southern Pilbara region of Western Australia. The study contemplates export and sale of manganese concentrate from the project over a long mine life and delivers outstanding economic metrics.
Butcherbird project development has a low capital spending requirement of just A$14.5 million, plus A$9.2 million working capital. The project development timeline is targeting first production in early 2021.
The Butcherbird PFS complements and enhances Element 25’s ongoing plan to develop an electrolytic manganese metal plant.
Element 25 Managing Director Justin Brown said, “The opportunity for a low capital and operating cost, rapid startup will transform Element 25 into producer status much earlier than previously anticipated. The robust cash flows will be transformational in growing the company and generating long-term shareholder value.”
The Butcherbird project hosts eight known manganese mineral resources in an approximately 600-km2 area of the southern Pilbara, about 1,050 kilometers (km) north of Perth. The site is accessible directly from Australia’s Great Northern Highway.
The current 2019 JORC measured, indicated, and inferred mineral resource estimate stands at 263 million metric tons (mt) grading 10% Mn. The PFS proven and probable ore reserves for the project total 50.55 million mt.
Project approvals are well advanced, with two Native Title mining agreements in place.
The Butcherbird mine plan is designed to utilize the tabular geometry of the mineralization at Yanneri Ridge to provide a simple and low-cost mining operation. Mining will consist of loaders mining 1-meter (m) to 2-m benches and delivering the ore into a mobile crusher feed hopper via a grizzly. To enable the loaders to operate more efficiently, the ore will be cross ripped by a dozer prior to mining. Drill and blast will not be required.
A contractor will be utilized for the mining operations, which will be overseen by Element 25 management.
Beneficiation test work has been conducted over an extensive period since 2009, specifically focusing on both a manganese ore product and more recently on the feed material for the hydrometallurgical process to produce electrolytic manganese metal.
The Butcherbird project will produce between 270,000 mt/y and 370,000 mt/y of manganese ore. Manganese lump product will be trucked from the mine site to Utah Point at Port Hedland.