Premium African Minerals sits on 1,7m mineral resource
Nqobile Bhebhe, [email protected]
PREMIER African Minerals Limited is sitting on a mineral resource estimate of 1,7 million tonnes, a development that has prompted owners to toy with the idea of establishing a stand-alone lithium sulphate plant.
The Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) released last Friday is based on assay results from 163 drill holes totalling 33 258 metres drilled between September 2016 and the end of August 2023.
In early January, the firm said latest assay results have shown heavy presence of spodumene, a lithium bearing rock that is a commercially important source of the base metal.
The results include both surface trenches and drill holes located within the area of the mineral claims block but outside of the existing mining operations and pit development.
The mining entity has its operations at Fort Rixon lithium mine in Matabeleland South Province.
Chief executive officer, Mr George Roach said the MRE supports the development of the Zulu mine on an expedited basis.
“It underlines our confidence in the medium and long-term future of this mine and further supports our view that Zulu has the stand-alone potential to develop a Lithium Sulphate plant.
“Work continues in the greater EPO area, and we have now identified areas of future potential mineralisation and secured those areas in the longer term under new mineral claims,” he noted.
Mr Roach said it is worth noting that the MRE is based on an assumed 80 percent of the total Li2O grade of the ore body being attributable to the SQI dominant style of mineralisation, which is conservative and ongoing analysis of the mineral assemblage may support an increase in this percentage with potential increases in the contained spodumene.
“We have previously set out our expectation that Zulu is likely to produce spodumene concentrates with low iron and higher spodumene concentrate grades.
“Accordingly, we expect to receive a premium for spodumene concentrates produced at Zulu and this further supports our determination to bring this plant into production now.
“While we do not have the ability to recover tantalite at present, relatively minor plant additions that are under consideration are expected to see production of ditantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) concentrate in the future.”
The firm said it has withdrawn the previous MRE published in 2017.
It noted that the estimation methodology in the 2017 MRE, while it was appropriate at that time based on the very limited and widely spaced data and early stage of exploration, is superseded by the extensive data set now available to Zulu industry standard reporting has generally disregarded mineral assemblage in reporting lithium grade only.
Mr Roach noted that the firm is energised by the arrival at site of all plant components and in particular the arrival and installation of the new ball mill.
“Assembly is expected to complete within the next weeks. Optimisation of the sorters is ongoing, and we expect the overall plant to be back in production during this month.”
In recent weeks, the firm has been receiving key plant equipment for installation.
Last November, the mining entity said plant operations had been partially suspended to allow for civil construction to commence in preparation for the installation of the 55 tonnes per hour ball mill and other associated structures.
Key aspects of plant optimisation include increase in density of material provided to the floatation plant, installation as an intermediate upgrade of redundant RHA Tungsten rod mill at Zulu, and refinement of the spodumene concentrate to eliminate mica and lepidolite minerals.
Lithium (Li) is recovered from minerals such as spodumene, petalite and lepidolite as well as lithium-rich brines and is used in a range of products such as ceramics, glass, batteries and pharmaceuticals.