Chvaletice Manganese Project Mineral Resource Update, 2018 Metallurgical Testwork Program Update and Preliminary 2019 Plans
Successful 2018 Drilling Program results in updated Mineral Resource Estimate with 98.3% of Resource classified in Measured Category.
Drilling Program confirmed outstanding consistency of manganese grade and mineralogy.
Successful Metallurgical Testwork Program and Pilot Plant Test runs, indicating manganese can be extracted from Chvaletice tailings using a combination of proven commercial technologies.
Testwork Program confirmed the proposed hydrometallurgical process can produce Ultra- High-Purity Manganese Products meeting or exceeding customer specifications.
Plan to build and commission a Demonstration Plant in 2019 to produce multi-tonne, Ultra- High-Purity Manganese Product samples for customer testing and qualification.
Project timeline remains on track, with Preliminary Economic Assessment targeted for release in early 2019.
Targeting production of both electrolytic manganese metal and manganese sulphate monohydrate, focusing principally on Europe's rapidly emerging electric vehicle industry.
Vancouver, Canada (December 12, 2018) – Euro Manganese Inc. (TSX-V/ASX: EMN) (the "Company" or "EMN") is pleased to announce an updated resource estimate ("Resource Estimate") for its Chvaletice Manganese Project in the Czech Republic and to provide an overview of its 2018 metallurgical testwork program ("Metallurgical Testwork Program Update") and its development plans for 2019 ("2019 Plans").
Marco Romero, President and CEO of EMN, noted:
"We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the 2018 drilling program and the resulting updated Resource Estimate for the Chvaletice Manganese Project, where 98.3% of the Resource was confirmed as Measured Resources. This milestone will provide a solid foundation for detailed planning of the tailings extraction and processing schemes, and drive the project economics in our upcoming Preliminary Economic Assessment, which we currently expect to release in early 2019.
During our extensive 2018 Metallurgical Testwork Program and pilot plant tests, our in-house team made significant progress in advancing its understanding of the Chvaletice deposit and in the planning and design of a technically-viable process flowsheet. By recycling the Chvaletice waste, we are targeting production of some of the highest purity electrolytic manganese metal and manganese sulphate monohydrate available in the world today, while setting the stage for compliance with very high health, safety and environmental standards.
In 2018 we have seen a continuous stream of announcements and reports of important new developments and investments in the lithium battery industry in Europe, North America and Asia. The Chvaletice Manganese Project is strategically located in the Czech Republic, amidst a major emerging cluster of electric vehicle plants that have started to serve local and export markets. This transformation of the entire European auto industry is giving birth to an entire ecosystem of battery factories, precursor and cathode makers, recyclers, and related battery raw materials supply chains."
Updated Chvaletice Manganese Project Resource
During the summer of 2018, EMN conducted a second campaign of drilling at the Chvaletice Manganese Project (the "Project") with a total of 80 holes, totalling 1,509.5 m. The program included completion of 35 vertical and 19 inclined 100 mm diameter Sonic holes, totalling 1,409.5 m, to supplement 80 holes, totalling 1,679.3 m completed in 2017. An additional 26 mobile percussion drill holes, totalling 100 m, were completed around the perimeter embankments of the tailings piles in areas which were not previously accessed for sampling. The tailings material observed, sampled and analysed was generally consistent in terms of total and soluble manganese grades, and mineralogy. The combined sampling and analytical data set from the 2017 and 2018 drill programs total 3,188.8 m of drilling, which was utilized to develop the updated Resource Estimate.
The updated NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate has resulted in a reclassification of all tailings contained in the three Chvaletice Tailings piles to Measured and Indicated Categories. The Project's total Measured and Indicated Resources now amount to 26,960,000 tonnes, grading 7.33% total manganese and 5.86% soluble manganese, as detailed in Table 1 below:
Estimated in accordance with the Canadian Institution of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum ("CIM") Definition Standards on Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves adopted by CIM council, as amended, which are materially identical to the Joint Ore Reserves Committee Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves 2012 Edition ("JORC Code").
The Chvaletice Mineral Resource has a reasonable prospect for eventual economic extraction. Mineral Resources do not have demonstrated economic viability, and no Mineral Reserves have been defined for the Project.
Indicated Resources have lower confidence that Measured Resources.
A cut-off grade has not been applied; the estimated break-even cut-off grade falls below the minimum grade of the block model.
Grade capping has not been applied.
Numbers may not add exactly due to rounding.
Image 2: 2017 and 2018 Drill Programs Hole Layout.
Tetra Tech Inc. ("Tetra Tech"), located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a leading provider of consulting, engineering, program management, construction management and technical services worldwide, were engaged to oversee the planning and execution of sampling and assaying, to prepare the updated Resource Estimate for EMN's Chvaletice Manganese Project, to prepare the Technical Report in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 - Standards and Disclosures for Mineral Projects, and to prepare the independent JORC Code technical report in accordance with the JORC Code, 2012 Edition.
2018 Metallurgical Testwork Program Update
From 2015 to 2018, EMN undertook a series of sampling, resource estimation and manganese recovery test programs, including semi-continuous, locked-cycle processing of tailings in a pilot plant. In parallel with the process studies, EMN conducted extensive environmental baseline and mine planning studies. The main objectives of these test programs and studies were to verify the findings of previous work, to confirm the amount of recoverable manganese contained in the Chvaletice manganese tailings deposit, to characterize its mineralogy and grade distribution, and to establish an economically-competitive process flowsheet. This process requires bringing together proven, commercial technology that can be used for the manufacture of high-purity, electrolytic manganese metal ("EMM" or "HPEMM") and high- purity manganese sulphate monohydrate ("MSM" or "HPMSM"), while meeting EMN's very high health, safety and environmental standards, as well as those of the Czech Republic and the European Union.
Metallurgical test work on field samples taken prior to the 2017 drill program for mineral resource definition has been reported in the Technical Report on Mineral Resource Estimate for the Chvaletice Manganese Project with an effective date of April 27, 2018, filed on SEDAR on June 26, 2018.
A total of 25 composite samples, totalling 14.8 dry tonnes of tailings, were prepared from Sonic drill-core samples taken in 2017 and resulting metallurgical testwork results will be published in the technical report being prepared in connection with the 2018 updated Resource Estimate. Detailed chemical and physical analysis were conducted on a master blend sample. The mineralogical characterization study included mineral component determination by optical microscope, x-ray diffraction analysis, scanning electron microscopy and mineral chemical phase analysis. Also, spatial variation studies of particle size, chemical composition, total and soluble manganese and various impurities were conducted. The study verified the previous findings indicating that approximately 80% manganese occurs in the form of leachable manganese carbonate minerals and approximately 19% of the manganese occurs as refractory manganese silicates. It was found that total manganese contents varied between 5.71 to 8.77% Mn, out of which 75%-85% of manganese is acid soluble.
The Changsha Research Institute for Mining and Metallurgy ("CRIMM"), a division of China Minmetals, and one of China's leading metallurgical research and development organizations, with extensive experience in the design, development and operation of EMM and MSM plants, was retained to conduct a multitude of qualitative and quantitative studies on behalf of EMN and to advise on technology selection and adaptation, and to test these on Chvaletice tailings.
CINF Engineering ("CINF"), a division of Aluminum Company of China, one of China's leading design institutes and a highly-experienced designer and builder of EMM and MSM plants were tasked with the oversight of the metallurgical testwork program and vendor equipment tests, design and evaluation of alternative HPEMM and HPMSM process flowsheets, as well as the development of pre-feasibility level engineering, including 3-D site layouts, equipment selection, as well as the development of capital and operating cost estimates.
Tetra Tech has been engaged since 2016 to oversee and evaluate the drilling, bulk sampling and resource estimation, as well as all metallurgical testwork programs, engineering and cost estimation. The results of this work are currently targeted for publication during Q1 2019 in a NI 43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA").
The test work included bench-scale optimization test work that established parameters for the operation of pilot scale magnetic separation and manganese electrowinning plants operating in semi continuous locked cycle mode. The pilot scale test work results were used by CRIMM and CINF to verify process plant design parameters that have been used to calibrate metallurgical simulation models of different manganese recovery flow sheets. The following process steps were tested on Chvaletice tailings material, principally at CRIMM's major R&D center In Changsha, China, and at its manganese research laboratory in Tongren, China, a highly-specialized working industrial facility on the site of two adjacent HPEMM and HPMSM commercial production plants:
Pre-concentration of raw tailings using different high-intensity magnetic separators to obtain a manganese concentrate;
Leaching of the manganese concentrate using sulfuric acid to obtain manganese sulfate solution;
Purification of manganese sulfate solution using multiple stages of purification for the removal of iron, phosphorus, heavy metals and other impurities to obtain a refined pregnant solution;
Selenium-free electrowinning followed by chromium-free passivation to obtain ultra-high- purity, low-sulfur HPEMM flakes;
HPEMM metal flake dissolution in dilute acid and secondary deep purification, followed by crystallization and drying to obtain HPMSM crystals;
Production of HPMSM directly from magnetic separation concentrate, in parallel with the above described process, and
Various process waste dewatering, washing, geotechnical and environmental characterization studies. Magnetic separation tests were conducted using two types of high-intensity magnetic separation machines, a vertical ring type separator and a horizontal ring type separator. These test results indicated:
Manganese recoveries vary from 76.7 to 94.3% of total Mn, averaging 87.7% Mn; and
That magnetic separation can increase manganese content in the feed from 7.2% to approximately 14% of total Mn, ranging from 12.0 to 15.4% of Mn.
Leaching tests were conducted to determine the optimal leaching conditions taking into account the subsequent iron, phosphorus, heavy metals and other impurity removal steps. Optimal leaching conditions were determined on the basis of dissolution temperature, retention time and acid-to-feed mass ratio. On average, it was determined that approximately 75% of the manganese can be optimally extracted by sulfuric acid leaching, with results ranging from 71.9 to 82.8% of total Mn. CRIMM also confirmed that no crushing or milling is required prior to leaching.
The leach-solution was purified in two steps, with the removal of iron, phosphorus, heavy metals and other impurities using purification reagents. The efficiency of these processes was confirmed, resulting in a refined manganese-bearing solution suitable for the electrowinning step.
Laboratory and pilot plant size electrodes were used for the electrowinning tests. The purpose of these tests was to verify operating conditions that will result in good quality manganese metal and low power consumption. After a series of tests, manganese metal with a purity over 99.9% was produced with power consumption of 6200-6400kWh/tonne of metallic Mn, without requiring the use of undesirable selenium dioxide, which is used to reduce the power consumption of manganese electrowinning. The HPEMM that was produced met or exceeded all known customer specifications.
The production of HPMSM from HPEMM derived from the previous steps was also tested, including manganese dissolution in dilute acid, followed by a two-step purification procedure, produced manganese sulfate monohydrate with a purity of over 99.9%. The HPMSM produced met or exceeded all known customer specifications.
Targets for next testing steps include further verification of the main process components, definition of design parameters for full-scale equipment and detailed investigation of side- processes, some of which could result in further process optimization.
Preliminary 2019 Plans
EMN is targeting the completion and release of a NI 43-101 compliant PEA for the Chvaletice Manganese Project in early 2019 and, subject to its acceptance by EMN's Board of Directors, to subsequently initiate a feasibility study. Planning is underway to design, build and commission a demonstration plant in the Czech Republic to provide bulk, multi-tonne finished product samples for customer tests and qualification. The Demonstration Plant is also expected to serve as a testing and training facility for future operations. Once the PEA is complete, EMN also expects to file a formal project description and notification with Czech regulatory agencies and local communities. Following a consultative and statutory comment period, EMN plans to file its Environmental Impact Assessment and related permit applications.
Resource Estimation Methodology, Sampling and Quality Assurance Mineral Resource Estimation Methodology
The Mineral Resource Update for the three above ground deposits of historical tailings material was completed using Leapfrog Geo v 4.4.2. The database used for the estimate was comprised of 3,188.8 m of drilling, of which 3,088.8 m were completed using a Sonic drill and 100 m completed around the perimeter embankments using a mobile percussion drill. A total of 1,484 samples were collected on 2 m continuous intervals from drill core within the tailings material; non-manganiferous material in the upper topsoil and lower subsoil were not sampled and are excluded from the resource tonnage estimates. Contact surfaces were created as hard boundaries from these outer material intersections which form fully enclosed volumes of tailings, within which the resource was contained. The data was assessed for outliers which determined that sample capping was not required.