Broken Hill Prospecting (ASX: BPL) has expanded its heavy mineral sands footprint in the Murray Basin to encompass 7,300 square kilometres of granted tenements in the region, after securing four new exploration licences totalling 4,163sq km.
Another licence that runs along strike from Broken Hill’s existing Tararra project in New South Wales was also pegged.
The new licences position Broken Hill as the largest mineral sands tenement holder in the Murray Basin.
According to the company, the new tenements are close to key infrastructure and host multiple heavy mineral sands strandline lines.
The latest acquisition is part of Broken Hill’s strategy to become a low cost mobile miner in the area.
Broken Hill is developing a pipeline of low-tonnage but high-grade heavy mineral sands deposits that could be processed through its modular and mobile equipment.
To ensure it has secured the right project areas, Broken Hill has reviewed historical data and generated a proprietary database that includes information from 60,000 drill holes and 2 million metres of drilling.
“The granting of four new exploration tenements with walk up resource targets places the company in a strong position,” Broken Hill managing director Trangie Johnston said.
“We now have critical mass to accelerate these projects at a time of strong underlying market conditions,” he added.
An extensive exploration program has been planned to kick-off shortly and will include validating historic data and undertaking geological modelling. An infill drilling program will be carried out over the new tenements once it has been planned.
Heavy mineral sands market
As with other commodities, the heavy mineral sands market, which comprises titanium minerals (ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile) and zircon has been languishing for the last five years.
However, as stockpiles have been drawn down and little money invested in finding new deposits, supplies have tightened triggering much needed price rises during the past year.
“Mineral sands commodity prices continue to perform well, and we are seeing improved financial performance from existing mineral sands producers,” Mr Johnston said.
Traditionally, titanium minerals have been consumed in the pigment market while zircon has been used in tiles and ceramics.
However, new doors may be opening up with disruptive technology company’s such as UltraCharge (ASX: UTR) developing a lithium-ion battery that incorporates titanium minerals in the anode instead of graphite.
Less than a month ago, UltraCharge announced it had boosted its anode production capacity for its batteries in anticipation of future orders.
The market reacted positively to Broken Hill’s news with the company’s share price soaring more than 13% to end the day at A$0.125.