Exploration starts at Larisoro manganese mine

27th March 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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Exploration activities have started at the Larisoro manganese mine, in northern Kenya, with Marula Mining exploration East Africa head Collins Aseto and his geological team having mobilised to site last week.

This comes after the March 1 announcement, where Marula said it was entering into a transaction with Gems and Industrial Minerals (GIM) to secure a commercial interest in Larisoro.

Under the terms of a binding terms sheet, and subject to entering into a technical support agreement (TSA) and a commercial agreement (CA) with GIM, Marula said it would invest about $1.75-million in an initial exploration programme to be completed over the course of the year, with the aim of increasing the mineral resources and understanding the extent and characteristics of the manganese mineralisation at the mine.

Marula will also need to use its forecast excess cashflow from its South African lithium mining operations to provide investment of $1.5-million for new mining, crushing, screening and processing equipment aimed at increasing monthly manganese ore production to between 5 000 t and 10 000 t of saleable high-grade manganese ore over the next three to six months.

The current exploration activities are focused on mapping and sampling of visible and shallow manganese mineralisation in the three shallow openpits and of outcropping surface manganese mineralisation that extends beyond the current mining operations, and which has also been identified at various locations on the granted mining rights.

"The aim of this current work is to increase our geological understanding of this mineralisation, map its extent across the mining rights and through our planned ground survey work and drilling programmes, look to expand the resource base allowing us to materially increase the scale of our proposed mining and processing operations,” Aseto said on March 27.

The work to date by Marula's geological team has already confirmed strike extensions of the manganese mineralisation over 2.5 km south of the existing openpit operations.

This initial work has indicated that high-grade manganese mineralisation appears to remain open down-dip and along strike and provides initial support for the company's plans to expand the current openpit mining operations.

Samples of the manganese mineralisation exposed in the openpits and of other exposed manganese mineralisation on the mining right licence areas are being taken to confirm the historically assayed grades, as well as the recent assay results received in December last year that averaged 37.72% manganese. This will further be used to support the new and expanded mining plans and schedules.

Mapping and sampling are being completed ahead of the ground survey work and resource drilling work that the company proposes to begin in the second quarter.

Representatives from specialist mining equipment and crushing and screening contractors are also on site at the mine, completing onsite inspections and assessments of the existing mining and processing equipment and of the manganese mineralisation.

Marula has proposed that maintenance and refurbishment of the existing mine and processing equipment will then begin in the second quarter, allowing operations to continue ahead of the planned arrival of new mobile mining, crushing and screening and processing equipment later in the quarter.

Planning work has also started for the establishment of new site administration and technical offices, workshops and stockpiling and warehousing facilities. This construction is also expected to begin in the second quarter.

"We are making great progress across all aspects of our planned investment . . . Refurbishment and maintenance work on the existing plant and equipment is being planned ahead of the arrival of new mining and processing equipment, and that will allow the operation to start to achieve some of the initial production targets we are setting,” Aseto said.

Ongoing discussions are continuing with logistics and transportation groups for the appointment of new contractors for the transportation of the manganese ore from the mine to the designated warehouse facilities under planned new sales and offtake agreements.

Marula said that new long-term manganese ore offtake discussions continue to progress with a Europe-based commodity trading group following a site visit and testing of the manganese ore.

An initial trial shipment of 2 000 t of manganese ore is to be delivered to the proposed offtake party in the second quarter as part of long-term offtake agreement discussions.

Marula also recently hosted several representatives from the Archers Post and Samburu communities at its offices in Nairobi. Discussions focused on the need for an active and transparent community engagement programme that supports and empowers the communities and planned mining activities.

“Community engagement activities are under way and we are remaining focused on fostering positive community relationships and active engagement with all key stakeholders as we look to establish the Larisoro manganese mine as a responsible and sustainable mining enterprise in Kenya,” Aseto said.

Further broad-based community meetings are planned in Archers Post and Samburu early in the second quarter, along with the starting of its partnership with the Mayflower Children's Foundation through refurbishment work at the Nakwamor Primary School.

Marula said that the formal TSA and CA documentation is progressing with both the company's Kenyan legal counsel and with GIM. These documents are expected to be signed in the second quarter.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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