Expanded scoping study confirms credentials of Malawi rutile/graphite project

17th June 2022

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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Aim-listed Sovereign Metals’ expanded scoping study for Kasiya, in Malawi, has confirmed that the project will be one of the world’s biggest and lowest-cost producers of natural rutile and natural graphite with a carbon footprint substantially lower than current alternatives, the company reports.

In April, Sovereign announced a new Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant mineral resource estimate for Kasiya, which confirmed the project as the world's biggest rutile (titanium dioxide) deposit and one of the world’s largest flake graphite deposits.

The expanded study indicates a considerable increase in net present value (NPV) and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation from the 2021 initial scoping study, with lower operating costs for a relatively small increase in capital expenditure to first production.

It also showcases the potential for Sovereign to become a major producer in both the natural rutile and graphite markets, with steady-state production of 265 000 t rutile and 170 000 t of graphite with a 25-year mine life.

The study points to low capital costs to first production owing to quality existing available infrastructure, offering considerable cost reductions and providing optionality and scalability.

It also highlights low operating cost and high margins owing to deposit size, zero strip ratio of soft, friable high-grade mineralisation from surface, amenability to hydro-mining, conventional processing, deposit location and low transport costs.

The study outlines favourable market fundamentals as rutile and natural graphite are deemed critical raw materials for the US and EU, based on economic importance and supply risk.

It points out that the 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 increase considerable as electric vehicle production is forecast to increase 12-fold by 2040.

The study also indicates several natural environmental, social and governance (ESG) benefits for Kasiya, including considerable reduced carbon dioxide emissions compared with alternatives, and considerable social and economic benefits for Malawi.

“The expanded scoping study demonstrates Kasiya is a tier one minerals project being the largest natural rutile resource and one of the largest graphite resources in the world.

“Both minerals are classified on the critical minerals lists of the US and EU and rutile is in extreme market supply deficit. In light of these factors, Kasiya is seen as a highly strategic project with the potential to be a major supplier in both rutile and graphite markets,” acclaims MD Dr Julian Stephens.

“The project benefits from existing high-quality infrastructure and has inherent ESG advantages. Natural rutile has a far lower carbon footprint compared to other titanium feedstocks used in the pigment industry, and natural graphite is a key component in lithium-ion batteries – crucial to decarbonising the global economy.

“Further, the vast majority of power for the planned Kasiya mining operation will be supplied by renewable hydro and solar – giving the mine itself a very low carbon footprint,” he adds.

Edited by Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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