As part of its strategy to fast-track exploration at its flagship SPD vanadium project in South Africa, Tando Resources (ASX: TNO) has flown the fourth drill rig into the project, with this latest rig destined to test the high-grade vanadium pipes where the company is hoping to firm up a near-term direct shipping ore (DSO) operation.
The heliborne drill rig was mobilised to the Cluster 5 target, where the highest-grade vanadium was uncovered during previous surface sampling.
During the sampling campaign earlier this year, Tando collected 20 samples from 12 vanadium pipes, which lie within a 3km radius of the project’s primary deposit.
Seven of those collected revealed insitu, whole rock grades in excess of 2% vanadium pentoxide, including 2.08% vanadium pentoxide and 2.02% vanadium pentoxide.
The fourth rig will now test the target to determine its viability before Tando commits funding for constructing road infrastructure to the area.
This latest exploration follows the company’s recently completed drilling at the Cluster 1 vanadium pipe target.
Assays are expected in the coming weeks from the initial program that totalled 13 holes.
Tando managing director Bill Oliver said the high-grade vanadium pipes offer the company “an outstanding opportunity at SPD”.
“The existing vanadium deposit is, by itself, highly attractive by global standards due to its grade and size. But these high-grade pipes could boost the viability even further,” Mr Oliver said previously.
SPD vanadium deposit
At the same time Tando is testing the vanadium pipes, it is carrying out the phase two drilling program at the primary SPD deposit where a maiden JORC resource is imminent.
The project has an existing foreign SAMREC resource of 513 million tonnes at 0.78% vanadium, and phase one drilling returned numerous notable assays including 34m at 1.03% vanadium pentoxide from 22m, 24m at 0.73% vanadium from surface, with a 12m interval grading 1% vanadium and a 2m interval grading 1.72% vanadium.
Tando is fully funded to completion of the current drilling programs at the high-grade pipes and the primary SPD deposit as well as metallurgical and mining studies.
Vanadium price continues upward
In only 12 months the price for 98% vanadium pentoxide has rocketed more than 200% from less than US$10 per pound in November 2017 to its current value of US$33.40/lb.
Numerous factors are driving the increase including new steel rebar standards in China that require incorporation of more vanadium, as well as a strengthening steel industry and the rapidly emerging vanadium-redox flow battery market.