The drill programme is following up on reconnaissance work, which resulted in the discovery of rutile during a shallow soil sampling and auger programme completed in September
Mkango Resources announced the commencement of an extensive hand-auger drilling and soil sampling programme to identify rutile prospects within its 869 square kilometre (“sq. km”) Mchinji licence (EPL 0544/19) in Mchinji district, Malawi, held by Mkango’s 100% owned subsidiary MKA Exploration Ltd.
The drill programme is following up on reconnaissance work, which resulted in the discovery of rutile during a shallow soil sampling and auger programme completed in September. The initial exploration work was limited by the equipment available in Malawi during the COVID pandemic but the Company was encouraged that the highest TiO2 grades were returned by nine consecutive samples in a single auger hole (A6), drilled to a depth of 8.9m, that contain between 4.10% and 9.01% total heavy minerals (specific gravity > 2.95) and grade between 3.17% and 4.09% TiO2 (see press release of 15 September, 2020). These early-stage results show geological similarities to saprolite-hosted rutile mineralisation recently discovered on the adjoining Sovereign Metals Ltd licence to the east. This suggests potential for discovering high-grade rutile deposits within Mkango’s large licence area, which is adjacent to an area that Sovereign Metals believes could potentially be a new province of rutile mineralisation.
Mkango’s Chief Geologist, Dr Paul Armitage, commented:
“This drilling programme and soil sampling will help us to target saprolite-hosted mineralisation. It will test the extent of the rutile and ilmenite mineralisation over a large part of our licence area and aims to confirm the potential for discovering high-grade rutile deposits in the licence. Given that rutile is in high demand and that there is a shortage of supply, confirmation of rutile prospects on the Mchinji licence could prove to be highly significant for the Company. We look forward to updating the market in the coming weeks as we receive the results from the laboratory.”
The exploration programme will be funded from the Company’s existing working capital.
Rutile, anatase and ilmenite are naturally occurring titanium dioxide (TiO2) minerals, whose main uses are 90% for pigments, 5% production of titanium metal and 5% welding. Rutile is the purest, highest-grade natural form of TiO2 and is the preferred feedstock in manufacturing titanium pigment and producing titanium metal.
Finely powdered rutile is a brilliant white pigment and is used in paints, plastics, paper, foods, and other applications that call for a bright white colour. It has also been widely used in the production of glass, porcelain, and ceramics, as it is a valuable colouring agent. It can also be used to add colour to steels and copper alloys.
Titanium also has specialty uses including in welding, aerospace and military applications.
Iluka Resources Ltd (“Iluka”) reports that, when compared to current deposits and operations, the industry is facing declining grades and assemblages (the relative weightings of each mineral) for future deposits being developed. Sierra Rutile in Sierra Leone, owned by Iluka Resources Limited, is the only high-grade, large-scale operating primary-source natural rutile mine in the world.
The rutile market fundamentals are robust with current and forecast pricing remaining strong. Iluka, in its Q3 2020 quarterly review, declared a weighted average received price for rutile of US$1,225 in the year to date, an increase of 7.3% over the full-year 2019 price. The current price is US$1,345 (source: FerroAlloyNet.com, 29 October 2020).
Scientific and technical information contained in this release has been approved and verified by Dr. Scott Swinden of Swinden Geoscience Consultants Ltd, who is a “Qualified Person” in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.
Source: Company Press Release