Tando Resources (ASX: TNO) has unveiled what it calls a “massive” maiden high-grade resource for its flagship SPD vanadium project in South Africa.
The maiden JORC resource now totals 588 million tonnes grading 0.78% vanadium pentoxide and is bigger than the historic foreign SAMREC resource of 513Mt at 0.78% vanadium pentoxide.
Additionally, the maiden resource includes a high-grade surface component of 80Mt grading 1.07% vanadium pentoxide.
Commenting on the maiden resource, Tando managing director Bill Oliver said it confirmed SPD as a “potential tier one asset”.
“The delineation of high-grade, near surface mineralisation provides an immediate focus for our metallurgical and mining studies,” Mr Oliver noted.
A phase two infill drilling program has wound up, with an updated resource due in the March quarter next year.
The updated resource will then be incorporated into a scoping study, which will evaluate the primary SPD deposit as well as a near-term direct shipping ore (DSO) operation from the high-grade pipes in proximity to the deposit.
Drilling is underway at the pipes and will continue into early 2019, with assays due imminently from the Cluster 1 target where 13 holes were completed.
During sampling earlier this year, Tando collected 20 samples from 12 vanadium pipes that are within a 3km radius of the primary SPD deposit.
Seven samples returned whole rock grades in excess of 2% vanadium pentoxide.
As part of the scoping study, Tando will also evaluate the potential of mining the high-grade primary SPD resource and blending the ore with that taken from the high-grade pipes.
Meanwhile, metallurgical testwork is ongoing, with results due before the end of March next year.
Tando will also begin preliminary pit optimisation work and expects mine designs will be completed on the updated resource.
“Our aim is to fast-track a robust viable near-term low capex production opportunity,” Mr Oliver said.
“Work during early 2019 will be focussed on development of this high-grade zone, in addition to the potential high-grade DSO contribution from the pipes,” he added.
By aiming to fast-track SPD, Tando hopes to take advantage of booming vanadium prices.
The vanadium price has rocketed more than 800% since the start of 2017 where it was languishing at US$3.50 per pound of 98% vanadium pentoxide to reach almost US$35/lb in October and November.
Although slipping to around US$25/lb, the price remains a far cry from previous lows.
Tando’s SPD project lies in a known vanadium producing region and is in a similar geological setting to major operations such as Bushveld Minerals’ Vametco mine and Glencore’s Rhovan asset.
Currently, all commercially viable primary vanadium production comes from vanadium-magnetite deposits and SPD has the advantage of proximity to key infrastructure and a similar mineralisation to the majors.
Propelling the vanadium market is the strengthening steel sector and the burgeoning vanadium redox flow battery industry.