Sovereign Metals has kicked off work on its major pre-feasibility study, launching a 12,000m drilling program to upgrade its world class Kasiya mineral sands resource and underpin its conversion into reserves.

The deeper drilling will focus on upgrading higher grade areas in the resource at Kasiya in Malawi, which with 1.8 billion tonnes at 1.01% rutile counts as the largest in the world at double the size of Iluka Resources’ massive Sierra Rutile operation in Sierra Leone.

Sovereign (ASX:SVM) will target extensions to indicated zones at the 25m deep base of the saprolite layer as well as expand the overall mineralised footprint through extensional and regional hand-auger drilling.

An updated scoping study is also due for completion in the coming weeks, building off the new resource estimate, which at 18Mt of contained rutile is triple the previous MRE.

That should build on the already impressive metrics in last year’s initial scoping study, which demonstrated a project with a post-tax NPV of US$861m, IRR of 36% and average EBITDA of US$161m over a 25-year mine life.

Rutile is a key titanium dioxide feedstock used in a range of industries including paint pigment and the welding industry, where Sovereign has already signed an offtake MoU with Hascor to supply premium-priced bagged rutile.

Inferred to indicated

Not only is Kasiya the largest rutile deposit in the world, but it also counts as one of the world’s biggest flake graphite deposits thanks to its graphite by-product.

It positions Sovereign as a potential major source of low CO2 footprint rutile and natural graphite, two commodities seeing rising prices on a structural undersupply of the raw materials.

Rutile occurs contiguously at Kasiya over an area of more than 180sqkm, with high grade mineralisation commonly grading 1.2-2% in only the top 3-5m from surface and 0.5-1.2% rutiles extending from 5m to the end of hole depths at over 10m.

A new 10,000m aircore program will be on a 200m by 200m grid to target indicated resources, which could be converted to probable reserves in the upcoming pre-feasibility study, the penultimate economic assessment for the project before an investment decision is made.

“In parallel to these mechanical drill programs, the company is continuing extensional and regional hand-auger drilling with multiple drill teams active across the company’s extensive target areas at Kasiya with the aim to expand the overall mineralised footprint and identify further high-grade rutile zones,” the company added.

“The low cost and low impact hand-auger drilling technique has proven to be a very effective exploration tool in the initial delineation of the Kasiya rutile and graphite MRE.”




This article was developed in collaboration with Sovereign Metals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.