Black Canyon’s massively manganese December quarter

Black Canyon (ASX:BCA) continues to elevate as an emerging manganese explorer rounding out 2023 with the largest contained manganese deposit in Western Australia and second largest in Australia.  

During the March 2024 quarter, the company plans to review regional exploration plans targeting hydrothermal and manganese enriched shale styles of mineralisation.  

Black Canyon will continue up scaled hydrometallurgical testwork on KR1 and KR2 manganese oxide ores to confirm and further refine the initial battery grade HMPSM testwork completed to date. 

It will also continue to review location options for a HPMSM within Australia with a focus on planned locations that provide synergistic advantages such as manufacturing hubs, infrastructure, reagents and low power costs.  

The company will then start a Manganese Concentrate Scoping Study update based on the expanded mineral resources estimates that will examine a number of options including single or multi-pit openings, central processing plant, production rates and transport solutions. 

During the past quarter, the company reported maiden Mineral Resource Estimates (MREs) for its wholly owned Balfour East and Damsite deposits, as reported by Mining.com.au. 

Exploration and mineral resource drilling across the Balfour Manganese Field has now delineated a global MRE totalling 314Mt @ 10.5% Mn containing 33.1Mt of Mn. Importantly, the company says a higher-grade component has been established, totalling 99Mt @ 12.9% containing 12.8Mt. 

During Q4 2023, the company also ushered in a maiden MRE for the KR1 and KR2 deposits totalling 103Mt @ 10.4% Mn containing 10.7Mt of manganese.

The MREs at KR1 and KR2 are hosted in mostly outcropping manganese enriched shales and form topographically elevated features. The resources have been estimated based on RC drilling completed by Black Canyon comprising 112 holes for 3,419m of drilling.

Maiden MREs were estimated for the Damsite and Balfour East deposits during the reporting period totalling 40Mt @ 11.9% Mn containing 4.7Mt of manganese.

Balfour East now has 32Mt @ 11.9% Mn (inferred), while Damsite is 7Mt @ 12.1% Mn (inferred).

The mineral resources at Balfour East and Damsite are hosted in mostly outcropping and sub cropping manganese enriched shales and form subtle topographically elevated features. Black Canyon says mineral resources defined at Balfour East and Damsite have been estimated utilising a subset of the RC drilling completed by the company, comprising 84 holes for 2,896m of drilling. 

Meanwhile, Black Canyon completed feedstock variability studies of the amenability of material from KR1, Damsite, Pickering, Hurricane and Balfour East to simple beneficiation and reductive acid leaching, as a first step towards the production of high purity manganese sulphate monohydrate (HPMSM). 

Following a successful leaching phase, the data was reviewed and the KR1 sample was selected for multistage precipitation/purification, followed by chemical extraction to concentrate the manganese in solution prior to crystallisation to generate HPMSM.

Black Canyon says having access to shallow, ‘high-grade’ manganese resources has the potential to add ‘significant’ value for HPMSM feedstock material and manganese concentrates as it progresses development and feasibility studies. 

Leach testing at KR1 yielded a 97% extraction rate and through phased purification produced a greater than 32% manganese content HPMSM exceeding minimum specification. 

Hydrometallurgical testwork completed on manganese oxide samples from KR1 within the BMF also generated battery grade HPMSM specifications of greater than 99% purity and within specification impurities levels, according to the company’s latest quarterly report.

According to Black Canyon, China currently dominates the HPMSM market, with over 90% of global production. Similar to other cathode precursor materials, the requirement for security and diversification of supply will become a material factor inducing the establishment of additional supply outside of China, primarily for the American and European car manufacturing industries. 

Also during the previous quarter, detailed sampling over the Wandanya tenement delivered further ‘high-grade’ rock chip samples up to 58.5% manganese. The company notes 4 samples taken between 80m to 100m apart returned 53.5%, 58.5%, 57.9%, and 57.8% manganese. 

The new samples, in conjunction with previously reported ‘high-grade’ samples, confirm the main body of bedded to massive mineralisation at the W2 prospect is 300m long and 150m wide, with further mineralisation mapped and sampled to the north over a strike length of 1,750m. 

Drilling is planned for Wandanya subject to completing a heritage survey scheduled for early Q2 at the end of the wet season. 

As per its latest quarterly report, Black Canyon posted assay results from the Pickering and Damsite prospects following a 7,000m reverse circulation drilling program completed in July last year. 

Results indicated Pickering can be traced along strike for about 10km, demonstrating ‘significant’ potential to complete further drilling to expand the target size. 

On the other hand, mineralisation at Damsite is interpreted to be shallowly dipping to the north and has a cross strike width of about 300m, a strike extent of at least 500m and open to the north. 

The company closed the December quarter with $1.43 million cash at hand and no debt. 

Black Canyon holds several exploration licences within the BMF along with a 75% interest in the Carawine joint venture (JV) with ASX-listed Carawine Resources (ASX:CWX). 

Its projects comprise more than 2,400km-square of prospective tenure in a premier mining jurisdiction close to the operating Woodie Woodie and Butcherbird manganese mines.   

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Black Canyon
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.