Sovereign Metals (ASX: SVM) has unveiled a maiden resource for its Kasiya target in Malawi, which the company says positions it as one of the world’s largest rutile deposits.
The maiden resource totals 644 million tonnes at 1.01% rutile for 6.5Mt of contained metal.
Within this is a higher-grade component of 137Mt at 1.41% rutile for 1.9Mt.
Sovereign noted all mineralisation within the resource occurs in a single, large, and coherent deposit, with most of the higher-grade material found within 5m of surface.
Based on the resource, Kasiya’s directly comparable closest peer is Iluka Resources’ (ASX: ILU) subsidiary Sierra Rutile’s operations in Sierra Leone.
Sovereign managing director Dr Julian Stephens said the maiden resource was a “remarkable result” for the company – particularly with a resource of scale, grade and global significance within 18 months of discovery.
‘Substantial’ growth expected
Dr Stephens said the maiden resource was “just the beginning”, with the company expecting “substantial” growth over the coming quarters.
The maiden resource covers just 49 square kilometres of the total 114sq km mineralised footprint.
Of this, Kasiya encompasses 89sq km and the recently discovered Nsaru deposit adds a further 25sq km of prospective mineralisation.
Sovereign revealed the Nsaru discovery at the end of March after it received assays from an initial 39-hole wide-spaced reconnaissance hand-auger drilling program.
More than 87% of those holes intercepted high-grade rutile within the top 8-12m of the weathering profile.
Notable rutile results within 14m of surface were: 13m at 1.27%, including 4m at 1.62%; 11m at 1.24% including 5m at 1.56%; 9m at 1.38% rutile, including 4m at 1.43%; and 12m at 1.15%, including 3m at 2.05%.
Advancing Kasiya amid increased demand
With the rutile market in a deficit, Dr Stephens said Sovereign was surging ahead with the scoping study for Kasiya, where it is evaluating a large-scale natural rutile operation.
He added because of the natural high-grade rutile mineralisation at Kasiya, it could “significantly impact” the current titanium market.
Currently, lower-grade titanium minerals such as ilmenite and leucoxene are refined using energy and waste intensive processes to produce an either synthetic rutile or titania slag product of similar grade to Kasiya’s rutile.
Sovereign believes its naturally derived rutile could displace these more costly and less environmentally friendly products.