The Avontuur Manganese Project ("Avontuur") is located adjacent to South Africa’s premier manganese producing area, the Kalahari Manganese Field ("KMF") in the Northern Cape Province, approximately 65km north of the town of Hotazel and approximately 500km south west of Johannesburg. The Gravenhage Manganese Deposit ("Gravenhage Deposit") is situated at the northern end of Avontuur, approximately 30km north of the KMF.
Reserve and Resource
The most recent Mineral Resource Estimate (JORC, 2012) was completed for the Gravenhage Manganese Deposit during the September Quarter 2013, with a Resource of 111.7Mt at 38.5% Mn. The Measured and Indicated Resource categories comprise 92.3Mt. The broader Avontuur Manganese Project area contains Mineral Resource Estimates (JORC, 2004 and 2012) totalling 141.7Mt at 38.4% Mn.
Aquila completed a Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS) for a medium to high grade manganese project at the Gravenhage Deposit, based on a JORC-compliant Reserve of 20.2Mt grading 40.1% Mn. The DFS proposes a 1.5Mtpa run-of-mine open cut operation, with subsequent underground mining by decline access from the open pit. The DFS provides for oxide ore to be crushed and screened to produce 1.125Mtpa of lump ore for export and 330ktpa of fine ore for sale to domestic sinter plants. Blending stockpiles at the mine will allow for a consistent product to be prepared for transport to domestic and international customers. Marketing studies indicate Gravenhage’s lump product should attract similar manganese prices to those achieved by premium South African and Australian ores, due to relatively low contaminant levels that contribute to slag formation in ferro-alloy furnaces.
The South African rail and port infrastructure is owned and managed by Transnet, a state-owned enterprise. Through its membership of the Manganese Industry Forum, Aquila has been working with Transnet, which is increasing the capacity of the rail line to the port of Port Elizabeth, as well as the establishment of a new export terminal at the nearby deep-water port of Nggura. In 2009, Transnet embarked on the Manganese Export Capacity Allocation ("MECA") process. Aquila participated in the MECA process and was pre-qualified by Transnet to participate in the re-allocation of the Port Elizabeth export capacity.
Aquila's mining right application for the Gravenhage Project had been pending for a number of years. On 15 February 2019, South Africa's highest court ruled that Aquila be granted a mining right, subject only to administrative steps to be implemented within three months by the Minister of Mineral Resources.
Gravenhage has the potential to contribute to socio-economic development in a region characterised by poverty and high unemployment rates. Further, as the Gravenhage development will rely on the ability to transport ore from the site to the expore market, the Project will underpin the proposed Eastern Cape and Northern Cape infrastructure improvements, that are an integral part of the South African Government's infrastructure plan.
The Project supports primary goals of the South African Government's National Development Plan, namely:
- Job creation;
- Skills development; and
- Economic growth.
Investment during construction plus on-going sustaining capital will support creation of ~320 jobs during construction and ~700 jobs during operation, which are to be sourced where possible from local communities. Local employment will contribution to skills development for staff and community members, including:
- Adult basic education and training;
- Portable skills training; and
- Internships and bursaries.