Emerging graphite explorer Volt Resources (ASX: VRC) has received environmental approval for its flagship Bunyu project in Tanzania, signalling the end in a series of key milestones which needed to be reached ahead of a mining licence.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate was presented to the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Volt Graphite Tanzania this week by the nation’s National Environment Management Council.
It represents one of the final remaining major milestones in terms of government permitting for development of the 461 million tonne resource believed to be the largest of its kind in East Africa’s richly-endowed graphite belt.
It is also considered to be a significant step towards the granting of a mining licence at Bunyu.
Stages 1 & 2 mining licence
In February, Volt submitted separate mining licence applications to Tanzania’s Minister for Minerals, covering the first two stages of Bunyu development over 18 square kilometres of project acreage.
Stage 1 will process an estimated 400,000 tonnes per annum of ore feed, producing a nominal 20,000tpa of coarse and fine flake graphite for export to the United States, China and other markets.
The development will include infrastructure, utilities and mine development work to benefit Stage 2 expansion, including a site access road, plant laydown area, tailings storage facility, waste dumps, stockpile areas, open pit development, mining operations, accommodation village and water supply.
The proposed Stage 2 development will incorporate an increase to existing production, based on market demand for Volt product and leveraging the large-scale graphite mineral resource and its close proximity to critical infrastructure.
Stage 2 will be based on pre-feasibility study metrics of 3.8 million tonnes per annum of ore to produce 170,000tpa of product.
New regulations in Tanzania
Volt recently submitted a revised Integrity Pledge and Local Content Plan to Tanzania’s Minerals Commission after it announced new regulations and guidelines governing the process in July.
The changes follow the formation of a mining commission in April to review foreign involvement in Tanzania’s mining sector.
An Integrity Pledge is signed by foreign mining companies as a formal commitment to abide by Tanzania’s ethical business practices, while a Local Content Plan stipulates priority be given to Tanzanians for the procurement of goods and services and for employment and training opportunities.
Volt’s EIA certificate will now be lodged with the Commission and a mining licence is expected to be granted shortly thereafter.
Volt chairman Asimwe Kabunga said environment approval moves the company a step closer to being a “meaningful participant” in the global flake graphite market.
Juniors in a mining-friendly regime
In recent months, a handful of Australian juniors have accelerated their moves to exploit significant resources within Tanzania’s resource-rich, mining-friendly regime.
Last month, Walkabout Resources (ASX: WKT) received confirmation that a mining licence would be granted for its high-grade Lindi Jumbo graphite project in the country’s south-east, and Jervois Mining (ASX: JRV) made a claim for the undeveloped Kabanga nickel-cobalt project further north when the Tanzanian government cancelled a retention licence over the area previously operated by the Glencore-Barrick Gold joint venture.
At mid-afternoon trade, shares in Volt Resources were 10.53% higher at $0.021.