Junior explorer Bryah Resources is adding manganese to its cache after uncovering high grades of the steel-making material and battery metal at its Bryah Basin project in Western Australia.

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

Grades of up to 49.5 per cent were found in recent rock chip sampling. Anything above 44 per cent is considered high grade.

The market loved the news, with shares rallying as much as 41.7 per cent to an intra-day high of 17c before cooling to 14.5c by midday — still a 21 per cent gain.

The Bryah Basin has a history of high-grade (+40 per cent) manganese production.

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.

A sample containing 49.5 per cent manganese. Pic: Bryah Resources.
A sample containing 49.5 per cent manganese. Pic: Bryah Resources.

“The global outlook for manganese is extremely good, there is a shortage of supply and increased demand which is driving up manganese ore prices, up 50 per cent in the last six months, Bryah (ASX:BYH) managing director Neil Marston told investors.

“We knew there were significant manganese anomalies, but our recent work has verified very high grades,” Mr Marston explained.

“Now the company’s planned exploration program for 2018, subject to necessary approvals, will also feature manganese targets.”

Bryah now plans to focus on finding economic resources amenable to short-term production.

“The aim is to go back and quickly re-evaluate some of these areas and see if there’s a production scenario that we can capitalise on, because with the market running at the moment they’re paying $US7 ($8.95)to $US8 a [dry metric tonne unit] out of South Africa for 37 per cent manganese,” Mr Marston told Stockhead.

“If we can produce something that’s around that benchmark or higher well then the economics of that stack up pretty well and you don’t need huge tonnages to make reasonable money out of it. So why not investigate that opportunity whilst the market is in the position it is?”