Manganese X Energy Corp. [MN-TSXV] has achieved a key milestone by releasing a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Battery Hill Manganese deposit, which is located near Woodstock, New Brunswick.
Measured and indicated resources at the site are estimated at 35.14 million tonnes of 6.39% Mn and 10.64% Fe. On top of that is an inferred resource of 28 million tonnes of grade 6.46% Mn and 10.73% Fe.
“Battery Hill has robust economics, strong value metrics and a short payback period for a relatively low capital investment,” said Manganese X CEO Martin Kepman. He said the PEA makes Manganese X a “forerunner of becoming the first publicly traded company in Canada and the United States to commercialize high-purity electric vehicle quality compliant manganese.”
The company has previously said it aims to become a supplier of high purity (plus 99.9%) battery grade manganese for the production of lithium-ion batteries in the growing electric vehicle, energy storage and steel sectors.
Manganese X, in collaboration with Kemetco Research Inc. of Richmond, B.C, has been able to produce manganese sulfate with a purity exceeding 99.95% and with very low levels of base and alkali metals using material sourced from its flagship Battery Hill Battery Hill Manganese deposit, which is located near Woodstock.
The PEA is based on a market price of US$2,900 per tonne for battery grade high purity manganese sulphate (HPMSM). The company notes that this price is well below the long-term forecast price of US$4,200.
The capital expenditure is pegged at US$350 million, with an estimated pay-back period of 2.8 years.
The PEA envisages a 40-year mine production life and seven years of stockpile reclaim feed. Total life of mine production is forecast at 3.2 million tonnes of HPMSM, or 68,000 tonnes annually (84,000 tonnes annually in the first seven years of production).
Average annual gross revenue is forecast at US$177 million per year over the 47 years of project life.
The project is now advancing toward a pilot project, pre-feasibility study as well as advancing a drilling program to upgrade and expand manganese resources.
Manganese is among the most widely used metals in the world, fourth after iron, aluminum and copper. Yet there are currently no producing manganese mines in North America.
As electrolytic manganese (EMM) production outside China is minimal, Manganese X has an opportunity to become one of the few Western players in the EMM sector, said Christopher Ecclestone of Hallgarten & Company in a research report.
Ecclestone said lithium-ion manganese batteries are a promising technology as their manganese-oxide components are earth-abundant, inexpensive, non-toxic and provide better thermal stability. Historically, the demand, and hence the price of the metal is closely tied to demand for iron ore in China.
On Thursday, Manganese X shares were unchanged at 38.5 cents on volume of 704,610 and currently trade in a 52-week range of 58 cents and 22 cents.