AQSE-listed Marula Mining says initial sampling and metallurgical test work and flowsheet work completed on material collected from existing stockpiles at the Blesberg lithium and tantalum project site, in South Africa’s Northern Cape, has demonstrated high-grade lithium contained in the lithium-bearing spodumene mineralisation.
An average grade of 6.10% lithium oxide has been reported from the initial test work completed on the initial one tonne of material assayed by the company’s South Africa-based mineral processing and mining consultants Southern Metal Processing.
Lithium grades of the samples assayed demonstrate a high-grade and high-value lithium product that can be potentially recovered from the existing stockpiles without incurring high upfront capital costs and high mining and processing costs.
Tantalum mineralisation was also identified in the stockpiles from initial test work.
Initial estimates of the stockpiles of between 280 000 t to 400 000 t of material with new survey work to be undertaken to complete updated detailed estimates.
The stockpiles have been established from almost 80 years of intermittent mining operations at Blesberg and when the mining and recovery of lithium from the spodumene mineralisation was not the principal target.
The samples already taken are being tested to determine the mineralogy of the material collected and the estimated volumes from the stockpiles to determine which process will be best suited for the processing of the stockpiled material and to better define an estimated value of the contents.
Additional bulk sampling work is set to start, including recovery trials at scale and a manual mining assessment to provide more confidence in the volume and mineralisation content of the stockpiles.
The board has approved an accelerated programme to fast-track the treatment of the high-grade lithium in the spodumene mineralisation identified and contained in the existing stockpiles.
“It is great to update the market with another significant development from our promising Blesberg lithium project as we receive these extremely high-grade lithium assay results.
“These initial results not only provide the company with a solid platform to build on, but they are also hugely exciting. We have always understood Blesberg to be one of South Africa’s largest known economically mineralised pegmatite deposits, and one that has significant lithium potential both from development of the hard-rock resources and the retreatment of the existing stockpiles,” says CEO Jason Brewer.
“With these high-grade lithium results for the spodumene contained in the stockpiles and the recent record high prices of lithium concentrates, the reprocessing of these stockpiles without any associated mining costs and limited processing costs is an extremely attractive proposition for the company to very quickly move into production and sales of an export lithium product,” he adds.