Sovereign Metals Ltd (ASX:SVM) (FRA:SVM) has moved swiftly into a scoping study for the Kasiya Project in Malawi representing the next major technical milestone toward developing a strategic, large-scale, long life and sustainable rutile operation.

The scoping study has been designed to demonstrate an economic assessment of the business case to an accuracy of +/- 30% for the project, which is one of the largest undeveloped rutile deposits in the world.

Sovereign has multiple workstreams underway and planned for the study, which is targeted for completion in late 2021.

“Environmentally sustainable”

Sovereign managing director Dr Julian Stephens said: “After delivering one of the world’s largest natural rutile deposits in our maiden mineral resource estimate, Sovereign has moved quickly forward into a scoping study.

“The study is targeting a large-scale natural rutile operation to fill some of the existing supply deficit of the purest and most environmentally sustainable titanium feedstock.

“We are very happy with the strong team that has been assembled for the study and look forward to unlocking the value from Kasiya Rutile Project.”

Strong owner’s team

Sovereign has established a strong owner’s team with the appointment of two key members, study manager Russell Bradford and recently announced mineral sands veteran Paul Marcos as head of development.

Bradford has successfully managed numerous technical studies that have advanced through to mine construction and successful developments, including several African operations.

Marcos brings deep mineral sands metallurgical processing, engineering and operations expertise to the table.

As the head of development, he will lead and manage key technical components of the Kasiya project, including the scoping study due for completion this year and future feasibility study programs.

Engaged leading consultants

Sovereign has appointed internationally recognised engineering firm DRA Global to lead the scoping study.

DRA has extensive experience with mineral sand and graphite projects across Eastern Africa, with an established track record in studies and project delivery of comparable natural to Kasiya.

The company has also engaged other leading consultants for the study, including:

  • Orelogy Mining for mine scheduling and pit optimisation;
  • Paragon Tailings to assist with mining method and tailings management;
  • Epoch Resources for tailings disposal;
  • Allied Minerals Laboratories (AML) for flowsheet development and metallurgy;
  • Dhamana Consulting with supporting consultants for environmental and social; and
  • TZMI for marketing.

Drilling programs underway

Sovereign has a multi-rig core drilling program underway targeting high-grade rutile corridors at Kasiya for conversion to the indicated category to feed into the study.

The extensive program will cover about 114 square kilometres of drilled, high-grade rutile mineralisation as the area covered by the Kasiya resource estimate represents only 49 square kilometres or 43% of the drilled mineralised footprint.

Sovereign is hoping that the drilling will provide an opportunity to expand on the maiden resource estimate.

Two core drilling rigs are in operation on a 200-plus hole program being executed by Malawi drill contractors Geoconsult with additional support from Bamboo Rock Drilling.

Hand-auger drilling is also ongoing at the company’s Nsaru deposit.

Managing director Julian Stephens is currently in Malawi overseeing the drilling programs and conducting meetings with senior government officials and other key stakeholders.

Optimise flowsheet development

Sovereign has designed a pre-feasibility level bulk scale program to further optimise flowsheet development and assess variability across the different weathering zones.

The company will also continue to evaluate the potential of recovering a graphite by-product from the Kasiya rutile deposit.

Metallurgical test-work is being conducted at AML laboratory in Perth with a 4-tonne sample already on hand at the lab.

Sustainable operation

Sovereign has also started key components of the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA).

The company’s development strategy has a core focus on creating an environmentally and socially responsible and sustainable operation.

Baseline environmental studies are underway covering terrestrial flora and fauna, aquatic biology, air quality, surface water and groundwater studies.

The company continues engagement with all stakeholders from local communities through to the Government of Malawi.

Strategically located

The scoping study is the next major milestone for the company to move the Kasiya Rutile Project closer towards potential production.

Central Malawi has strong existing infrastructure including grid power and an extensive sealed road network.

The Kasiya Project is in close proximity to the capital city of Lilongwe, providing access to skilled workforce mining facilities and industrial services.

The location provides access to the operating Nacala Rail Corridor linking to the Indian Ocean deepwater port of Nacala in Mozambique, enabling a low-cost transport solution and access to major international markets.