Australia-headquartered South32 is progressing plans to potentially produce battery-grade manganese at its Hermosa project, in Arizona, with work on the selection phase of the prefeasibility study (PFS) for its Clark manganese/zinc/silver deposit now complete.
Although the PFS selection study remains subject to an independent review, the company reported on Monday that it had confirmed the opportunity for the Clark deposit to produce high-purity manganese sulphate monohydrate for the North American electric vehicle (EV) supply chain.
The North American EV market is experiencing rapid growth, aided by the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides incentives for the localisation of battery production and battery raw materials supply. Demand for high-purity manganese is set to rise sharply over the next decade.
In its December 2022 quarterly report, South32 said that it had progressed metallurgical test work at Clark and that drilling continued to collect bulk samples for pilot plant production from the middle of the year.
Meanwhile, the LSE-, ASX- and JSE-listed company is continuing to progress the feasibility study of Hermosa’s Taylor zinc/lead/silver deposit. The study will support a final investment decision, which is expected by the middle of the year.
South32 has also continued with dewatering Hermosa. The first two out of six dewatering wells have been completed. A second water treatment plant will be commissioned in the June 2023 quarter.
The company invested $96-million at Hermosa in the December half-year.
South32 acquired Hermosa in 2018 as part of a takeover of Arizona Mining. The asset is key to the company’s critical metals pursuit, having exposure to base and battery metals.