By Marcel CHIMWALA
ASX-listed resources group Sovereign Metals says an updated Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for its world-class Kasiya rutile-graphite deposit in Malawi has reported an increase of 81% in Indicated rutile and graphite resources.
The Indicated mineral resource for Kasiya, which is the world’s largest rutile deposit and second largest graphite deposit, now stands at 1.2 Billion tonnes at 1.0% rutile and 1.5% graphite implying that the updated MRE has moved over 0.5 Billion tonnes from Inferred to Indicated consequently over 66% of total MRE is now in the Indicated category.
Kasiya’s global MRE is pegged at over 1.8 Billion tonnes at 1.0% rutile and 1.4% graphite, and the updated MRE is to underpin the mining inventory and mine plan for the forthcoming Pre-feasibility Study (PFS).
Sovereign’s MD Dr Julian Stephens comments: “The increase of over 80% in the indicated component at one-for-one conversion from Inferred is an outstanding outcome.”
“The conversion rate confirms the very consistent geological and grade continuity and is testament to the high quality and robustness of the deposit.”
He says Kasiya is poised to become a major long term supplier of the critical minerals; natural rutile and graphite with both focused to be in near term and significant supply deficit.
“The PFS work programme on this highly strategic and globally significant project is progressing well and approaching its final stages. The Company is looking forward to present the outcome of the PFS in the coming months,” says Stephens.
The updated MRE has further defined broad and contiguous zones of high-grade rutile and graphite which occur across a very large area of over 201km2.
Stephens explains that rutile mineralisation is concentrated in laterally extensive, near surface, flat “blanket” style bodies in areas where the weathering profile is preserved and not significantly eroded while graphite is depleted near surface with grades improving at depths generally >4m to the base of the saprolite zone which averages about 22m.
Sovereign’s 2022 drill program at Kasiya used push tube (PT) core holes to in-fill and convert Inferred mineralisation into the Indicated category.
“The consistency and robustness of the geology allowed for an efficient conversion of this previously Inferred material on a near-identical one-for-one basis to the Indicated category,” says Stephens.
A total of 66% of the MRE now reports to the Indicated category @ 1.0% rutile and 1.5% TGC – up from 33% previously.
“Overall, the new Indicated components show coherent, broad bodies of mineralisation that have coalesced very well with the additional infill drilling results,” he says.
Stephens reports that further advancement in this MRE update was the application of air-core (AC) drilling to define the depth of mineralisation in a number of selected higher-grade areas.
“As expected, this drilling shows that highgrade rutile and graphite mineralisation extends to the base of the soft saprolite unit terminating on the saprock basement averaging about 22m depth. This AC drilling targeted early-scheduled mining pits mainly in the southern areas of the MRE footprint,” he says.
Stephens reports that a number of higher-grade graphite zones at depth were identified which are generally associated with higher grade rutile at surface.
He says some of these zones have graphite grades at depths >6m in the 4% to 8% TGC range and appear to represent significant contained coarse flake graphite tonnages.
“The highlighted cut-off of 0.7% rutile presents 1.8 billion tonnes at a rutile grade of 1.0%. The overall recovered rutile equivalent grade for the MRE at the global 0.7% cut-off is 1.65% RutEq*,” says Stephens.
Sovereign Metals has established international standard mining industry facilities in Malawi for its exploration projects with the large scale rutile sample laboratory in Lilongwe as a notable example.
The Company is also creating employment opportunities by training and employing members of the community in project areas and offering internship opportunities to students from local universities.
Though its Kasiya Project is yet to move to production stage, the Company has undertaken a number of Corporate Social Responsibility projects which include construction of a community centre and drilling of boreholes at a number of villages in Kasiya to ensure supply of potable water to the local community.