Element 25 Limited (ASX:E25) has confirmed the grant of an Innovation Patent for a flowsheet it designed for the extraction of manganese from run-of mine concentrate from the company’s 100%-owned, world-class Butcherbird Manganese operation in Western Australia.
The patent is based on a process-proven ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure leach with multiple rounds of testing successfully leaching Project ores to produce a manganese sulphate solution, achieving high recoveries and excellent selectivity against undesirable impurities.
This solution is further processed to produce battery-grade High Purity Manganese Sulphate Monohydrate (HPMSM) for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EV).
As previously announced, recent test work confirmed high extraction rates of up to 97% in under 60 minutes, with the bulk of the extraction taking place in the first 15 minutes of the reaction.
Importantly, this round of extraction tests utilised an alternative reagent offering advantages over that used previously in terms of availability, cost, process simplification and carbon intensity, in keeping with the Company’s objective of becoming a low cost Zero Carbon Manganese producer.
E25’s Business Development team is focussing on the next stages of the multi-stage development strategy, including a Stage 2 expansion of the concentrate business followed by a Stage 3 development to convert the concentrate material into high purity manganese sulphate monohydrate (HPMSM) for electric vehicle (EV) batteries to power the global transition away from fossil fuel powered mobility.
Manganese is emerging as an increasingly important ingredient for EV batteries, with potential supply constraints for nickel and cobalt forcing battery manufacturers to look to high manganese cathodes to produce the vast amount of cathode material required by the EV industry in coming years.
The Project is ideally placed to feed this potential demand, with advanced flowsheet development work undertaken in 2019 and 2020 confirming a simple leach process for E25 ores which, when combined with offsets, will target the world’s first Zero Carbon Manganese for EV cathode manufacture.
E25’s Butcherbird Manganese Project is a world-class manganese resource with current JORC resources of more than 263Mt of manganese ore.
In May 2020, the copany completed a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS)7 with respect to developing the deposit to produce manganese concentrate for export to generate early cashflow with a modest capital requirement.
Stage 1 of the Project development plan is complete and E25 has commenced shipping ore to offtake partners.
The PFS also highlighted the Project’s potential for significant growth beyond the initial Stage 1 production volumes (the studies examined the potential for a 2X and 3X expansion to Stage 1 within 12 months of initial commissioning), and the company expects to expedite the expansion of the Project.
In addition to the concentrate export business, the company has completed extensive research & development and laboratory test work into the production of high purity manganese products including battery grade manganese sulphate (HPMSM) and High Purity Electrolytic Manganese Metal (HPEMM).
The work has highlighted that the Butcherbird ores are highly amenable to an ambient temperature, atmospheric pressure leach process, resulting in a very efficient extraction of the manganese into solution, the key requirement for the cost effective and sustainable production of HPMSM and HPEMM.
The Project straddles the Great Northern Highway and the Goldfields Gas Pipeline, providing turnkey logistics and energy solutions.
The company plans to integrate renewable energy into the power solution over time to target a zero-carbon footprint for the Project, which is expected to also reduce energy costs. A cleaner, lower carbon flowsheet and high penetration renewable energy will place Butcherbird at the forefront of sustainable high purity manganese production.