After unveiling its five-year strategic plan in April, ASX-listed Mineral Commodities has finished the September quarter on a strong note with solid performances across its heavy mineral sand and battery feedstock divisions.
At the company’s Tormin heavy mineral sands operation on the west coast of South Africa, mining and processing throughput remains strong. Ore mining continued at an annualised rate of about 3.14 million tonnes per annum, helping the company to produce 71,127 tonnes of final concentrates.
During the latest quarter the company also flew air-borne geophysical surveys over its De Punt tenement, adjoining Tormin, in a search for extensions to its heavy mineral sands deposits. Two main linear magnetic trends were lit up within De Punt through the air-borne efforts with a western trend stretching 13km long and an eastern trend spanning an aggregate length of 8km.
The trends appear to be geologically aligned and extend from the strandline deposits that together contribute 212.7 million tonnes of ore to the company’s global resource of 562.2Mt at 6.6 per cent total heavy minerals.
In 2020, drill efforts at the southern boundary of the Western deposit returned significant results including 13m at 51.2 per cent total heavy minerals from 30m downhole and 17m at 45.5 per cent from 29m.
The significant southern show alludes to a high potential for the mineralisation to continue into the newly granted and adjoining prospecting area.
More than 10,000km away in Norway, Mineral Commodities has achieved a fourth consecutive quarter of stabilised operating performance at its Skaland graphite mine after a fire in the site’s processing plant and failure of the autonomous grinding mill both disrupted operations.
Total ore mined for the quarter was 14 per cent lower than the previous quarter due to an annual four-week shutdown during the Norwegian summer holidays. Importantly the company says, its performance in the quarter continues to reflect a return to historical performance to meet the production needs of 10,000 tonnes per annum of concentrate production from the high-grade Traelen ore body, with reduced development requirements.
Similarly, graphite concentrate production decreased by nine per cent below last quarter’s production given the annual four-week shutdown. However, the year-to-date performance reflects improved Skaland plant availability with 7496 tonnes produced, a number is in line with budget expectations and historical operating performance.
Interestingly, there is more graphite in an electric vehicle than there is lithium. In April Mineral Commodities unveiled its Five-Year Strategic Plan that outlined a new vision, values and goals for the company as it looks to develop a downstream graphite business with a solid sand mining operation as its base. Since 2017, Mineral Commodities’ heavy minerals division has contributed more than US$25m towards its battery mineral initiatives.
The company’s focus is to increase production at Skaland to its permitted 16,000-tonne-per-annum limit whilst developing its other graphite asset in South Australia, the Munglinup project, to further increase production.
Notably, Mineral Commodities hails Skaland as the world’s highest-grade operating flake graphite mine at 1.84Mt going an extraordinary 23.6 per cent graphitic carbon. Munglinup, on the other hand, holds a 7.99 million tonne resource at about half the grade of Skaland, however it is substantially larger and represents a significant opportunity for the company to enjoy economies of scale.
Mineral Commodities is targeting final investment decisions into the expansion of Skaland production and development of Munglinup in the second quarter of next year. Once its initiatives are met, the company aims to kick its proposed commercial-scale graphitic anode plant into operation by 2024.
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