Thursday, 2 March 2023

Maiden resource positions Manuka as one of the largest aspiring vanadium producers on the ASX

by Berkeley Lovelace

Manuka Resources has defined an initial 3.2Bt vanadium resource for its recently acquired Taranaki vanadiferous titanomagnetite (VTM) iron sand project in New Zealand, ranking it as one of the larger drilled vanadium deposits globally.

Manuka Resources (ASX:MKR) has previously highlighted the enormous vanadium potential that lies within its Taranaki VTM iron sand project, but the definition of a maiden resource of 3.2 billion tonnes at 0.05% vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) demonstrates just how valuable the addition of the critical mineral to the company’s portfolio is proving to be.

“The Taranaki VTM’s vast low-cost titanomagnetite iron sands potential is well understood,” Alan Eggers, Manuka executive director and chairman of the Taranaki VTM project, explained.

“Despite an awareness of its vanadium potential, the vanadium resource had not previously been estimated. The recent completion of this work highlights a very large resource in terms of contained vanadium making it a potential vanadium producer of world scale.”

The titanomagnetite iron ore concentrate grading 55% to 57% iron contains 0.5% V2O5 and 8.4% titanium dioxide (TiO2).

With 1.6 million tonnes of contained V2O5 the project ranks as one of the larger drilled vanadium deposits globally. Over 65% of the resource is in the higher confidence indicated category.

While vanadium has long been used in steelmaking for its ability to make steel stronger, it has been propelled to the forefront of the ‘green economy’ with vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) now a viable solution for large-scale renewable energy storage.

It’s also a key element that extends lithium-ion battery life, creating batteries that charge faster, are safer because they don’t explode, last longer and are more powerful.

Titanium dioxide is used in high grade steel alloys and titanium metal in aircraft, spacecraft, motor vehicles and medical implants as well as used to make ultra-white pigments that are used in white goods, paints, fabrics, plastics, paper, sunscreen, food, and cosmetics.

Vanadium is already deemed to be a critical mineral by the Australian and US governments, but there are only three large-scale primary vanadium producers globally – Bushveld Minerals, Glencore, and Largo Resources.

“With concerns around security of vanadium supply from key producing nations China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa, underpinning rising prices, we expect the vanadium potential of Taranaki VTM, along with its green steel low carbon emissions profile, to be of huge interest to end users – hence vanadium’s critical mineral status in Australia, USA and the EU,” Eggers said.

At an assumed production rate of 5 million tonnes per annum, the VTM concentrate produced each year from the Taranaki VTM project would contain 25,000 tonnes per annum of V2O5, making Manuka one of the largest aspiring vanadium producers on the ASX.

“This new work on the two critical minerals, recoverable vanadium and titanium, confirms the potential to further enhance the project’s robust iron ore economics with the prospect of its estimated $US20 to $24 per tonne iron ore concentrate production cost to be materially offset by substantial vanadium and titanium metal by-product credits,” Eggers explained.

“The completed PFS and initial BFS work have demonstrated a low-cost iron ore concentrate production operation with CO2 emissions generated per tonne of shipped concentrate less than half of other global iron ore concentrates.”

The Taranaki VTM project will be in the bottom quartile of CO2 emitters for iron ore producers globally, with an estimated 62kg of CO2 per tonne compared to the international average of 125-250kg of CO2 per tonne.

Manuka now plans to commission additional metallurgical test work to optimise the flowsheet for processing of the VTM concentrate to confirm economic recovery of vanadium as a separate product stream.

The test work will target over 70% recoverable metal.

The project has already been granted a 5Mtpa mining licence with an initial 20 year mine life proposed.

A bankable feasibility study is already underway.




This article was developed in collaboration with Manuka Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

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