Bryah Resources has picked up manganese rock chip samples with grades of up to 52 per cent in Western Australia’s Bryah Basin.

Investors were pretty pleased, sending shares up as much as 30 per cent to 13c on Thursday morning.

The junior explorer (ASX:BYH) added manganese to its cache after uncovering high grades of the steel-making material and battery metal at its Bryah Basin project earlier this year.

Bryah listed as a copper and gold explorer in October last year after it was spun out of Australian Vanadium.

The company has now found even higher grades at the Black Hill prospect and historic Mudderwearie mine.

Although about 90 per cent of manganese consumed annually goes into steelmaking, the commodity is increasingly being used by manufacturers in next generation battery and power storage applications.

Global demand for manganese has climbed from around 11 million tonnes in 2009 to 18 million tonnes in 2016, and it is expected to grow to just under 20 million tonnes this year.

Managing director Neil Marston says anything above 37 per cent would fetch a good price in the current market.

“It certainly gives us a lot of encouragement to focus on the manganese, energy metal, battery metal story,” he told Stockhead.

“From our point of view, producing high-grade manganese with the market the way it is globally makes very good commercial sense.”

Bryah is now building up its manganese expertise with the appointment of Ian Ross, a geologist with over a decade of experience in manganese.

Although the Bryah Basin has a history of high-grade (40-plus per cent) manganese production in the 50s and 60s, many new discoveries have been made more recently.

The Horseshoe Flats mine, which is in production and exporting out of Port Hedland in the Pilbara, was only discovered by shallow drilling eight years ago.

“That’s very encouraging for us because it indicates that exploration potential in the area is really untapped in a lot of areas,” Mr Marston explained.
“There hasn’t been a lot of drilling. A lot of the previous exploration conducted by the miners, certainly in the 50s and 60s, would have been just by digging pits and following the excavator’s bucket basically.

“So with some modern techniques we think we can have some success.”

Bryah is aiming to begin drilling in late June to pave the way for a resource.