Bryah Resources (ASX: BYH) has discovered up to 49.5% manganese from a rock chip sampling program originally designed to identify gold and copper mineralisation targets across its Bryah Basin project in Western Australia.
Five manganese samples were grabbed from two locations at the project, with the peak 49.5% manganese sample arising out of a rock outcrop from exploration licence E52/3237. The other four samples were taken from historical manganese mine stockpiles and insitu and assayed at 16.3%, 20%, 27.2% and 35.6%.
Admitted to official quotation on the ASX in October last year, Bryah acquired the Bryah Basin project only a few months earlier.
Bryah Basin encompasses 718 square kilometres of prospective tenure, which Bryah has been focussed on exploring for gold and copper due to the number of historical copper and gold operations in the region.
However, preliminary exploration activities unearthed multiple manganese targets, which Bryah plans to follow up in an expanded exploration program, which includes the engagement of consulting geologist Brain Davis who has extensive manganese experience.
This expanded program involved a review of satellite imagery, which uncovered numerous manganese anomalies at surface and exploration at Bryah Basin will pursue economic resources for short-term manganese production.
As part of its new exploration strategy at the project, Bryah is targeting small-to-medium sized shallow manganese deposits grading 30% and above.
The company hopes the manganese mineralisation will be amenable to simple beneficiation processing.
Despite the new manganese direction, Bryah noted it remains committed to advancing its copper and gold exploration at the project.
Manganese begins a come back
As with other surging energy metals such as cobalt and lithium, the manganese price staged a comeback in 2017 after bottoming out in late 2015 and early 2016.
The metal ended 2017 at around US$2,060 per tonne from less than US$1,950/t 12 months earlier.
Manganese is often used in the lithium-ion battery’s cathode, which is driving the commodity’s consumption.
Until now, the steel industry has swallowed about 90% of the manganese market, with the remainder used in fertilisers and water treatment applications.
However, the lithium-ion battery market has triggered demand for the metal to rocket from 11 million tonnes in 2009 to 18mt in 2016.
According to Bryah, this is expected to grow further to 20mt during 2018.
The market reacted favourably to the news, with Bryah’s share price soaring more than 20% to A$0.145 by early afternoon trade.