Emerging multicommodity miner Mustang Resources’ latest assay results for the Caula vanadium/graphite project, in northern Mozambique, continue to underpin a strong economic outlook for the project, with the miner noting that a maiden vanadium resource is due soon. The company also has the Montepuez ruby project and prospective ruby deposits.
Mustang Resources announced last month that the latest assays show more “outstanding” high-grade vanadium and graphite over extensive widths with significant intersections close to surface.
The company drilled diamond holes MODD014, MODD015, MODD016 and MODD017 close to the previous five holes drilled in 2016, which resulted in the 2017 Joint Ore Reserves Committee- (Jorc-) compliant inferred mineral resource (at 6% cutoff grade) of 5.4-million tonnes at 13.0% total graphitic carbon (TGC) for 702 600 t of contained graphite.
Following initial work on Caula’s graphite, recent laboratory analysis also tested for vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) which led to the discovery of high-grade vanadium mineralisation within the Caula ore.
The latest assays indicate grades of up to 1.02% V2O5 and 24.2% TGC. The vanadium is hosted in a roscoelite-mica mineral within the graphitic schist; according to the miner, this is expected to result in simpler and cheaper vanadium liberation than in traditional magnetite-vanadium deposits.
According to Mustang Resources, the latest results, which come from drilling Fence Line 3, are considered important because of the significant widths and grades particularly at current market prices for both commodities.
In light of these results, Mustang further expects to complete the maiden Jorc-compliant vanadium resource in coming weeks, which will be followed by feasibility studies. The company aims to undertake a fast-track development to Stage 1 vanadium and graphite cash flow from trial mining in mid-2019.
“The outlook for Caula continues to go from strength to strength with every step of the scoping study. Caula is already emerging as an outstanding graphite project with both high grades up to 26% TGC and about 55% large to super jumbo flakes,” says Mustang Resources MD Dr Bernard Olivier.
“The combination of high-grade vanadium and the extremely attractive graphite metallurgical results with significant intersections and grades obtained close to surface, highlight the potential for low operating costs based on the production of two commodities which are enjoying robust prices and strong growth prospects.”
The initial metallurgical testwork has confirmed that Caula can yield high percentages of super jumbo, jumbo and large flakes (about 55% from the fresh ore) with carbon content up to 98% through simple flotation (average of 97% carbon across all size fractions) and recoveries of up to 96%. Oxidised ore has also demonstrated excellent treatment characteristics.
The main uses of vanadium are as an additive in steel production and in the manufacturing of vanadium redox batteries (also known as vanadium flow batteries, or VRB).
Mustang Resources highlights that, during the past year, the supply and demand landscape for vanadium has changed dramatically, owing to several developments in China, such as more stringent minimum specifications for reinforcing steel used in buildings, as well as an increased demand for large-scale energy storage.
As a result, the price of vanadium has increased steeply, making it the best-performing battery metal of 2017. Therefore, Mustang Resources is working towards becoming a supplier of low cost vanadium and graphite to the markets.