[Ferro-Alloys.com] West Australian-focused explorer, Accelerate Resources is off to a solid start with its strategy to focus on discovering metals critical for the electrification of global economies. First-pass rock chip sampling at its newly acquired Braeside West manganese project in the prolific Pilbara region has returned high-grade mineralisation from multiple samples, including 55.3 per cent, 53.6 per cent and 48.8 per cent manganese.
A total of 15 samples taken along three previously identified trends and from various outcrops delivered grades of more than 30 per cent manganese. Other high-grade results include 47.7 per cent manganese and 47.0 per cent.
Today’s results confirm our observations and historic database collation. Eight samples returned over 40% Mn with low iron and low silica. Whilst we understand that these results are part of the very early stages of our Manganese Strategy, they are very encouraging as the Company is targeting new manganese discoveries to feed both the lithium-ion battery and steel production sectors.
Accelerate Resources Managing Director, Yaxi Zhan
Accelerate recently exercised an option to acquire the manganese and iron ore rights to the non-adjoining Braeside West and Rippon Hills East projects in the Pilbara, about 125km east of Marble Bar. Management says historical data collation has already identified multiple manganese targets throughout the tenure.
According to Accelerate, a recent site visit to Braeside West and Rippon Hills East has already confirmed the extensive nature of the prospective Pinjian Chert–Carawine Dolomite lithology at the properties, with manganese mineralisation exposed at surface at numerous locations.
Braeside West takes in 139 square kilometres of tenure and boasts more than 25km of prospective strike, according to Accelerate. The project has seen several phases of historical exploration including geological mapping, rock chip sampling, geophysical surveys, however only limited drilling.
Notably, a past electromagnetic survey covering a portion of the tenement lit up more than 20 untested anomalies.
Accelerate says historical drilling at Braeside West returned a string of shallow intercepts including 11m at 28.4 per cent manganese from just 1m depth. Other hits from surface include 2m at a high-grade 41.8 per cent manganese, 5m at 37.3 per cent manganese and 8m at 37.4 per cent.
Curiously, multiple historical rock chip samples at the project also returned manganese grading more than 50 per cent.
The nearby and underexplored Rippon Hills East covers about 48 square kilometres of land adjacent to the 12 million tonne non-JORC compliant Ripon Hills manganese deposit grading 24.6 per cent manganese.
Management says it has also identified the presence of manganese in streams at its Rippon Hills East tenure during a recent field visit.
Both projects lie around 70km to the north of the “world class” Woodie Woodie manganese mining operations owned by private group, Consolidated Minerals Australia.
Manganese has been mined at Woodie Woodie since the early 1950s with production today consisting of several open-cut pits and a 1.6 million tonne per annum processing plant.
According to Consolidated, ore from Woodie Woodie is renowned for its high manganese content, high manganese to iron ratio, low phosphorous and hard, competent nature. The high-grade manganese ore from the project attracts a price premium over benchmark ores, Consolidated says.
Accelerate believes the geology at Braeside West and Rippon Hills East show similarities to Woodie Woodie.
The company is now looking to incorporate its sampling results from Braeside West into its database of historical information to pin-point targets for drill testing. Metallurgical test work on high-grade sample results is also being planned.
The company recently launched its ‘manganese strategy’ on the back of its belief of future supply disruption and shortfalls in the manganese market. It is targeting new manganese discoveries to supply the burgeoning lithium-ion battery and steel production industries.
Manganese is a critical element in the production of steel due to its self-hardening and anti-corrosive properties. About 8kg of the metal is utilised in every tonne of steel to provide strength, hardness and abrasion resistance.
In recent times, new applications for manganese have emerged in the flourishing lithium-ion battery industry driven by the surging uptake of electric vehicles around the globe.
High purity manganese represents a cheaper alternative to cobalt in nickel-cobalt-manganese battery cathodes, according to Accelerate. Curiously, recent research by global financial services company, JP Morgan concluded that global electric vehicle sales are set to lift from about three per cent in 2020 to about 27 per cent by the end of the decade.
Accelerate says high-grade manganese deposits going more than 40 per cent manganese play a crucial role in steel and battery market supply chains around the world.
Accelerate Resources Managing Director, Yaxi Zhan said: “We are excited by the opportunity to explore within a world class region for high-grade manganese, a critical mineral for battery and steel production with forecast demand shortfalls. The historical data review and the field trip demonstrate the potential for a largescale high-grade manganese project. This timely, high value strategy is in a proven yet underexplored area with excellent infrastructure, and we believe there are significant opportunity for new discoveries.”
Meanwhile, Accelerate has also recently lodged applications for three exploration licences prospective for lithium, tin and tantalite in the mineral-rich Pilbara. The new tenure covers a hefty 369 square kilometres some 30 kilometres from Marble Bar.
Notably, the landholdings lie just a stone’s throw from known lithium occurrences and a hive of lithium exploration activity. The lithium, tin and tantalite mineralisation targeted by Accelerate is hosted within pegmatites on its ground.
Some 20km north-east, ASX-listed Global Lithium Resources is looking to grow its hefty Archer lithium deposit where an inferred resource taking in 10.5Mt at 1.0 per cent lithium oxide has already been defined.
The emerging hard rock lithium discovery at the pegmatite hosted Archer appears to have plenty of room to grow too. Global Lithium says less than 10 per cent of the prospective area has been drill tested so far, with lithium mineralisation also intercepted some 15km away.
About 10km north-west of Accelerate’s tenure, private group Lithium 1 is working its 93 square kilometre Moolyella property that hosts the historical Moolyella mine. Since the late 1800s, intermittent mining at the property churned out some 8,000 tonnes of tin concentrate, with tantalite concentrate also produced.
Notably, historical drilling at Moolyella in the 1980s intersected multiple pegmatites with grades reaching as high as 6,750 parts per million tin, 110 ppm niobium and 120 ppm tantalum. Subsequent rock chip sampling identified lithium-bearing pegmatites in outcrops with grades reaching 1.25 per cent lithium oxide and 1.06 per cent lithium oxide.
Follow-up drilling at Moolyella confirmed the presence of lithium pegmatites with multiple holes hitting mineralisation, including a 3m interval going 0.3 per cent lithium oxide in one hole.
Whilst the Pilbara is world renowned for its iron ore production with nearly 40 per cent of global supply in 2018, the region has also developed a reputation for its assortment of other mineral riches.
In recent times, a swathe of exploration companies has sparked a modern-day gold rush in the region fuelled by ASX-listed De Grey Mining and its world-class Hemi discovery at its Mallina project. Following discovery early last year, De Grey’s share price soared from about $0.04 in January to reach as high as $1.60 by September 2020.
De Grey recently released a striking maiden resource at Hemi of 192.4Mt grading 1.1 g/t gold for a whopping 6.8 million ounces of contained gold.
The Pilbara has also emerged as a premier lithium district with the likes of Pilbara Minerals rocketing to a market cap of just shy of just shy of $7 billion on the back of a 162Mt ore reserves at 1.2 per cent lithium oxide and 100 ppm tantalum pentoxide at its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project.
Located some 80km west of Archer, the Pilgangoora reserves boast a mammoth 1.9Mt of contained lithium oxide and 36 million pounds of contained tantalum pentoxide. Pilbara Minerals has tabled a 26 year mine life for its already producing mine.
Some 20km further south-west lies the Wodgina lithium deposit - one of the largest known hard rock lithium spodumene deposits in the world.
Owned through a joint venture between ASX-listed Mineral Resources and New York-listed chemical manufacturing company, Albemarle Corporation, Wodgina takes in a massive 259Mt resource grading 1.17 per cent lithium oxide.
Albermarle and Mineral Resources, both boasting multi-billion dollar market caps, recently announced plans to recommence spodumene concentrate production at Wodgina in the third quarter of next year after enduring the lithium slump of the last two years that is now firmly in the rear view mirror. The operation boasts a processing capacity of 750,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate per annum, underpinned by a 30-year life of mine.
Notably, research by JP Morgan determined that lithium demand is forecast to soar by more than 500 per cent by 2030, driven by appetite from the electric vehicle sector where demand is projected to grow nearly ten-fold from 2020 levels.
Accelerate’s recent strategy of targeting metals critical for the modern world appears to be off to a flying start with high-grade manganese already unveiled at its new tenure. The Perth-based explorer could creep onto a few radars as its hunt for manganese and lithium in one of the best bits of geological real estate in Australia.