The prefeasibility study at mineral exploration and development company Montero Mining & Exploration’s phosphate project, in Saldanha Bay, the Western Cape, is expected to start soon, with the goal of completion in 2016, after which, if positive, the project will go into a bankable feasibility study, Montero president and CEO Dr Tony Harwood tells Mining Weekly.
Earlier this year, Montero entered into an agreement with niche investment firm Ovation Capital to fund the phosphate project from prefeasibility study through to bankable feasibility study, says Harwood, adding that the studies will be towards the potential establishment of a rock phosphate openpit mine.
In addition, Ovation Capital will also fund a study aimed at examining the potential for establishing a fertiliser plant in Saldanha Bay.
“Our vision is to develop a rock phosphate mine to feed an integrated fertiliser plant,” says Harwood.
He notes that the proposed mine site is 30 km from the harbour, and that the company hopes that the mine will create a significant amount of jobs for the local people.
He adds that Montero is also considering acquiring additional phosphate projects in-and-around the Western Cape. “The main reason for this is that a fertiliser operation is usually a 50- to 100-year type of facility and substantial resources are needed to sustain this type of facility.”
“The world needs food, therefore, fertiliser is needed globally to help grow the food that is required to feed a growing population,” says Harwood, stating that Montero hopes to become a major player in the production of fertiliser in southern Africa.
Harwood tells Mining Weekly that, in 2011, Montero acquired prospecting licences for phosphate exploration near the Saldanha Bay harbour.
He says the area has been drilled before and there also used to be a mine that mined phosphate. Montero has conducted a drilling programme on its exploration phosphate licences that confirmed the resources to a Canadian Stock Exchange-compliant standard for further development.
“From 2011 to 2013, we conducted various drilling, metallurgical, and environmental programmes and completed a preliminary economic assessment, which is a high-level assessment of the project’s economic potential,” elaborates Harwood.
Montero is a mineral exploration and development company engaged in the identification, acquisition, evaluation and exploration of mineral properties focused on rare-earth elements in Tanzania and phosphates in South Africa.
The company has a strategy that is focused on developing resources on the African continent.