AQSE-listed Marula Mining continued on an upward trajectory towards its near-term project development and production milestones across its projects, CEO Jason Brewer says in an update on the quarterly activities of the company for the three-month period ended December 31.
“The company has made progress in strengthening its focus on battery metals acquisitions, something that’s important to our strategy, as we look to play our role in the global green transition.
“We are excited to add new projects such as the Kinusi copper project and the Bagamoyo graphite project, to our portfolio of assets, and in Tanzania, a top-tier mining jurisdiction,” he outlines.
Brewer highlights great progress, in particular, being made at the Blesberg lithium and tantalum mine during the quarter, where the company made considerable strides towards becoming a producer in the short term.
“I am pleased with this progress which has not gone unnoticed by many commodities trading groups and investors who are looking to secure long-term and sustainable supplies of lithium to meet record levels of demand.
“The funding we secured to increase our interest in Blesberg and to fund its development was a major win for our shareholders; not only was it structured against future high-grade lithium ore production and thus reducing dilution to shareholders interests, but I believe it was a great endorsement of the project and management and our plans to develop it in the long term,” he says.
The first 1 000 t of high-grade run-of-mine (RoM) lithium ore is to be delivered progressively over the next four weeks under the prepayment facility to Southern Jade Resources from the Blesberg lithium and tantalum mine, located in the Northern Cape in South Africa.
In aggregate, about 4 000 t of material is either packaged in 1 t bags or contained in the new RoM stockpiles, pending final sorting and sizing.
Processing of the existing stockpiles is ongoing, with all mobile mining equipment on site and operational.
Mine layout optimisation work is ongoing, with upgrades already completed on haul roads and access ramps to the stockpiles and all key aspects of site infrastructure meeting expectations.
Processing plant equipment is fully established on site and crushing and screening of material operating to budgeted levels.
Check samples from bagged high-grade RoM lithium ore has been taken for analysis as part of the final grade and ore quality reconciliation required under the prepayment facility.
Sampling is being undertaken and managed by the company’s consultants at various laboratories in South Africa to set proper testing protocols and procedures for deliveries under the prepayment facility and future long-term offtake arrangements.
Site infrastructure continues to be upgraded, with the installation of a telecommunications tower recently completed, as was the installation of solar power for the office administration and accommodation areas.
Long-term offtake discussions are also now being progressed with multiple parties for both material from the reprocessing of the existing stockpiles and the potential hard rock conventional openpit lithium mining operation being planned by the company.
Marula’s board and management team will be on site in mid-February to oversee ongoing processing activities and deliveries under the prepayment facility.
QUARTERLY OPERATIONS HIGHLIGHTS
As announced in October, a $5-million lithium prepayment facility was signed with Southern Jade Resources, a subsidiary of global commodity group Traxys, for the purchase of the first two shipments of high-grade RoM lithium ore produced from Blesberg.
The first $2.5-million was advanced and received by the company and its mining and processing contractors Southern Metal Processing (SMP).
The company used $1.7-million of the funds to increase its ownership in Blesberg, subject to receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals in the UK and South Africa and the $800 000 balance used by SMP to fully fund the first phase capital and working capital costs to bring the Blesberg project into the production of high-grade lithium ore from reprocessing of existing stockpiles at Blesberg.
Further, as announced in October, the company entered into a binding heads of agreement with Takela Mining Tanzania to secure a 49% commercial interest in the Kinusi copper project located in Mpwapwa district in the Dodoma region of central Tanzania.
Kinusi comprises ten granted primary mining licences which are valid for a period of seven years and where due diligence work undertaken by the company’s management and consultants identified a potential high-grade and shallow copper orebody that appears to extend for over 1 km and remains open in all directions.
Samples of the copper ore mined from the small-scale activities on site and azurite and malachite copper mineralisation exposed in shallow pits and shafts reported copper grades of 7.28% copper, 19.12% copper and 31.32% copper using a hand-held X-ray fluorescent.
During the quarter, Marula and Takela management representatives met with regional and local government officials and started initial exploration and survey work, which identified 30 additional surface exposures of copper mineralisation across the project area.
The investment in Kinusi is considered to be in line with the company’s battery metals focus and strategy in identifying opportunities that are considered high grade and with the potential to be near-term production and cash flow generating projects.
In addition, as announced in November, the company entered into a binding heads of agreement with Tanzanian mining company Kusini Gateaway Industrial Park (KGIP), under which it has secured a 73% commercial interest in the Bagamoyo graphite project.
Bagamoyo comprises 22 granted graphite mining licences that are valid for a period of about seven years through to August 2029 and are located in the Bagamoyo district in the Pwanai region of Tanzania.
The granted mining licences extend over an area of about 180 ha and are close to existing graphite mining and exploration activities. The company’s planned exploration activities will target high-grade, jumbo and large-flake graphite mineralisation.
The transaction with KGIP further strengthened the company’s position in the battery metals sector and has provided the company with the opportunity to secure a major strategic position in Tanzania’s growing graphite exploration and mining sector, Marula notes.
POST-QUARTER OPERATIONS HIGHLIGHTS
In January, the company announced that the initial Phase 1 programme exploration activities had started at the Bagamoyo project in accordance with the heads of agreement signed with KGIP.
Geofields Tanzania has been engaged to complete this work, which is to include mapping, sampling and trenching across the 22 granted mining licences and targeting high-grade, jumbo and large-flake graphite mineralisation.
Work is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter.
Also post quarter end, the company announced this month that it had engaged Geofields to begin copper exploration work at the Kinusi project.
The planned exploration work, which is to begin in February, will focus initially on the small-scale shallow copper mining activities which have demonstrated potentially widespread high grade copper mineralisation across the ten granted copper mining licences.
The work will also focus on over 30 additional surface exposures of copper mineralisation that were identified from previous work completed by the company’s technical representatives and consultants and Takela in November.
Work to be undertaken by Geofields at Kinusi will include mapping, sampling, trenching and establishment of a comprehensive geological database that is expected to enable the company to advance project development.
A successful annual general meeting was held, and one of the resolutions passed was to vary the investing strategy of the company to allow Marula the authority to acquire majority interests of the entire issued and to be issued share capital in identified investments, projects and entities.
Since the passing of this resolution, the company has secured a majority interest in the Bagamoyo graphite project and also the Blesberg lithium and tantalum mine, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals in South Africa.
As previously announced, the company raised £519 500 of gross proceeds through the issue of new ordinary shares.
The company also issued £265 000 of secured convertible loan notes to Brahma Finance.
Net proceeds from the equity placing and notes will be used for general working capital purposes and to fund the company’s investment strategy, new investment acquisitions and ongoing exploration and development activities at the company’s projects.
The company announced in October that it is in advanced discussions with two Africa-focused mining investment funds on potential transactions that would involve a significant investment in the company.
This month, the company announced the exercise of warrants raising gross proceeds of £80 000 for the company; the issue of new ordinary shares and warrants over new ordinary shares in lieu of financial advisory services provided to the company; receipt of funds and the issue of new ordinary shares and warrants by way of a delayed subscription to the company’s previous fundraisings; and the extension to the expiration term of certain warrants.