ASX-listed Element 25 has dispatched the first shipment of manganese concentrate from its new Butcherbird open-pit mining and beneficiation operation about 130km south of Newman in WA’s southern Pilbara region. The company says Pilbara-based AK Evans Group last week kicked off ore haulage from Butcherbird to Utah Point in Port Hedland in readiness for loading and export.
Perth-based Element 25 says first trucks that departed the project were carrying concentrate produced as part of the Butcherbird commissioning and ramp-up of the “stage one” processing plant.
The company envisages stage one annual production of about 365,000 tonnes of manganese concentrate, with a nominal 40-year life of mine.
Loading of Element 25’s first Butcherbird manganese product totalling about 27,000 tonnes onto a ship bound for its offtake partner’s smelter in China has been scheduled for the final week of this month.
Manganese concentrate from Butcherbird will be trucked by AK Evans Group from the mine site via an access road to the Great Northern Highway and then along the highway to the Utah Point bulk handling and loading facility.
Element 25 and the bulk haulage and construction company last month entered into an initial “letter of intent” arrangement while a long-term commercial contract is finalised.
Also last month Element 25 secured a port access agreement with the Pilbara Port Authority, allowing the $327 million market-cap manganese producer to export its manganese concentrate through Port Hedland’s Utah Point facility.
The first parcel of manganese concentrate from Butcherbird has been sold to offtake customer OM Materials, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based and ASX-listed vertically integrated manganese and ferroalloy group, OM Holdings.
Element 25 squared away its binding take-or-pay offtake deal with OM Materials in the March quarter this year.
The contract speaks for all the 365,000tpa of manganese concentrate Element 25 intends exporting for the first five years of production under its stage-one plan.
The successful commissioning and ramp-up of this first stage of development provides a fantastic foundation from which to grow this business both by expanding concentrate production as part of our stage two expansion plans but also by developing the processing infrastructure to produce battery-grade zero-carbon manganese products for the lithium-ion batteries which will power the electrification of the global vehicle fleet.
Management says it is now looking at the next phase of the company’s development strategy for Butcherbird including a proposed expansion of concentrate production involving doubling of plant throughput from the stage-one or base case of 1.3 million tonnes per annum to 2.6Mtpa.
Element 25’s revised pre-feasibility study tabled in December last year showed annual production at Butcherbird rising to 590,000 tonnes of manganese concentrate per annum over a nominal mine life of 20 years based on the stage-two scenario.
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