The PFS will assess in detail the pathway to commercialisation for Element’s manganese resource following strong scoping study results and growth forecasts in markets for high-purity manganese products.
Element intends to produce such products including manganese sulphate for lithium ion batteries and electrolytic manganese metal (EMM).
A number of consulting groups are undertaking or managing various aspects of the study and the PFS is on track to be complete within the timeframe of 18 months from May this year.
The recent sale of the company’s Holleton Gold Project has also generated $1 million in cash for Element, as well as a 1% net smelter royalty on future production.
In addition to cash reserves, the company holds securities in a number of listed companies which at the end of September was worth more than $8.2 million.
Resource development drilling programs to bring the resource to an indicated and measured status, as well as groundwater exploration work, were planned and programs-of-work were approved this quarter.
Drilling began earlier this month and will take about 4 weeks to complete.
All assays are expected in the December 2018 quarter and an updated resource model is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2019.
Element expects the updated resource model to form the basis of a maiden ore reserve due to be reported with the PFS.
The company is in discussion with several independent advisory groups to provide early-stage project financing services including initial engagement with potential funders and advice on available funding structures and strategies.
Advice received by Element so far indicates a pathway to project funding provided the PFS and definitive feasibility study (DFS) returns results similar to the scoping study.
Specialist consultants were engaged in the scoping study to determine a low-cost, low-emission energy solution and have been carried over into the PFS as part of a three-stage process.
The first stage was completed this quarter and evaluated the site’s plant scale and power-plant scale and reviewed options for power supply.
The outcome of stage I confirmed that the most economic energy mix for Butcherbird is likely to include a combination of gas, wind, and solar power to drive the electrowinning process.
Producing battery-grade high-purity manganese sulphate using Element’s process is exothermic and energy neutral, however, producing EMM requires large amounts of electrical energy.
Element intends to integrate substantial renewable energy into its power solution to minimise carbon intensity and further reduce costs.
Butcherbird infrastructure overview
Flowsheet upscaling test work is being conducted by Simulus and includes a program of small-scale optimisation followed by a bulk-leach of about 500 kilograms of samples from the Yanneri Ridge orebody.
Discussions are ongoing with CSIRO to agree on a structure to collaboratively develop and commercialise the process technology developed for Butcherbird.
The PFS includes an open pit “diggability” assessment, which has been completed by consultants 4DG, and a geotechnical drill program to evaluate open pit stability requirements.
The geotechnical drilling will be undertaken by Peter O’Bryan and Associates and will be part of a larger metallurgical diamond drill program scheduled for early 2019.
MBS Environmental has been engaged to plan and manage the environmental permitting process and several programs have been designed for implementation in 2019.
Element has also begun engagement with traditional owners of the area to negotiate a native title agreement to allow the grant of a mining lease.
A heritage survey conducted in September cleared the area for infill drilling and infrastructure development.