One of Australia’s largest undeveloped manganese deposits is inching closer to development, with prospector Montezuma Mining (ASX:MZM) releasing an encouraging scoping study for its Butcherbird project, outlying plans to supply the scorching battery metals market.
The Butcherbird project, located in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, holds a massive mineral resource of 180.8 million tonnes at 10.8% manganese, which Montezuma believes is ripe for development.
The study models an open-pit operation producing low strip ratios, capable of extracting both electrolytic manganese metal (EMM) – a high-grade product required for the construction of batteries – as well as manganese sulphates, more commonly used in steel production.
The project is expected to use a standard truck and shovel configuration to supply a processing plant, which will produce material ready for shipping.
A processing plant operation, which includes crushing, scrubbing, grinding, purification and electrolysis is expected to deliver overall metal recoveries of 76.1% for EMM production and 80.5% for manganese sulphides.
Following successful laboratory scale testwork conducted by the CSIRO in 2017, Montezuma decided to accelerate the due diligence process and its own understanding of the Butcherbird Project by engaging experts to assist with a scoping study concerning development and mining of Butcherbird,” Montezuma Mining executive director Justin Brown said.
“The results were encouraging and a clearer pathway to the projects development has been mapped out.
“We see great potential at the Butcherbird for increasing the Resource and rapid mine development leading to Montezuma becoming a manganese producer in the near-term,” he said.
The company is on track to present a preliminary feasibility study and is targeting production by 2021, at the latest.
Shares in Montezuma have opened strongly upon the release of the scoping study, trading at 29 cents per share.