Sovereign Metals starts pre-feasibility study for Kasiya rutile project

By Marcel Chimwala

ASX-listed Sovereign Metals says it has commenced a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) for Kasiya rutile prospecting project in Lilongwe.

Sovereign MD Julian Stephens states in a quarterly activities report for the quarter ended June 2022 that as part of the PFS, his company has appointed globally recognised consultants to conduct a 12,000m drilling program across the Kasiya tenement to upgrade higher-grade Mineral Resource areas to underpin conversion to Reserves.

In the report Stephens also says his company has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mitsui & Co Ltd (Mitsui), one of the largest global trading and investment companies in Japan

He explains that the MoU establishes a marketing alliance and offtake for 30,000 tonnes of natural rutile per annum.

“The alliance will allow Sovereign to leverage off Mitsui’s extensive network and their market-leading understanding of the titanium industry and global logistics,” says Stephens.

A Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) upgrade confirmed Kasiya as the largest rutile deposit ever discovered containing 1.8 Billion tonnes @ 1.01% rutile and 1.32% graphite (Indicated + Inferred) equating to 18 million tonnes contained rutile and 23 million tonnes contained graphite.

The updated MRE also confirmed Kasiya as one of the largest flake graphite deposits globally.

In June 2022, the Company announced the Expanded Scoping Study that confirmed Kasiya will be one of the world’s largest and lowest cost producers of natural rutile and natural graphite with a carbon-footprint substantially lower than current alternatives while significantly contributing to the social and economic development of Malawi.

The study results indicate that Kasiya will have low capital costs to first production due to exceptional existing infrastructure offering significant cost reductions and providing optionality and scalability.

The project will also enjoy low operating cost and high margins due to deposit size, zero strip ratio with soft, friable high-grade mineralisation from surface, amenability to hydro-mining, conventional processing, enviable deposit location and low transport costs.

There are also extremely favourable market fundamentals as rutile (titanium) and natural graphite are deemed critical raw materials for the US and EU based on economic importance and supply risk.

Natural rutile market is in structural deficit with current global supply estimated to decline 45% in the next three years with graphite demand set to soar as electric vehicle production is forecast to increase 12-fold by 2040.

The report also says Kasiya has natural Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) benefits which include substantially reduced CO2 emissions for both rutile and graphite compared to current alternatives, including substantial Scope 3 emissions reductions for pigment production from rutile compared to alternative feedstocks and significant social and economic benefits for Malawi including job creation, fiscal returns, training and continued community social initiatives.

Sovereign Metals has established an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework to advance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in Malawi.

Stephens says the Company continues to undertake several initiatives to assist in the development of Malawi and its local communities as it aims to become an industry leader in social responsibility having successfully worked with communities in Malawi over the last decade who remain are highly supportive and are well positioned to benefit from the development of new mining projects.

Malawi is already benefitting from Sovereign Metals Exploration Projectsexploration projects through employment and on-the-job training as the Company continues to expand its investment in Malawi. Currently, Sovereign has 45 employees and is an equal opportunity employer with a gender diverse workforce as 60% of the company’s employees are professional Malawian staff and at least 50% of regular interns are women.

Sovereign Services is also creating employment benefits by recruiting and training employees from their respective exploration project areas. The company employsToday seven people from Kasiya are employed at the their processingsample processing laboratory in Lilongwe which were trained in various stages of sample processing and a further 11 people from Santhe which wereare employed trained in sample preparation at the cCompany’s Santhe facility near Kasiya. In addition, four people from its Malingunde Graphite Project area are employed in the Lilongwe laboratory.   

The company also recruits lLocal people are always employed for additional assistance on a temporary basis during exploration drilling programs.

Estimates indicate that the Kasiya rutile project will create hundreds of direct jobs and significantly more indirect jobs in the community.

Sovereign Metals is also establishinghas established  international standard mining industry facilities in Malawi, a notable example being the construction of a large-scalen extensive rutile sample laboratory in Lilongwe.

The Company has also constructed a community centre for the Malingunde community which they use to hold development meetings.

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