Maiden MRE confirms Sovereign’s Kasiya as globally significant rutile deposit

Sovereign Metals Limited (ASX: SVM) has released its maiden Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for the Kasiya rutile project in Malawi, delivering 644Mt @ 1.01% rutile (0.7% cut-off, Inferred) including a high-grade component of 137Mt @ 1.41% rutile (1.2% cut-off, Inferred).

Sovereign said that all mineralisation within the MRE occurs in a single, large, and coherent deposit with much of the high-grade material occurring within the top ~5 metres from surface.

the maiden MRE…confirms it as one of the largest natural rutile deposits in the world

The company said that the maiden MRE establishes Kasiya as a strategic and globally significant natural rutile discovery and confirms it as one of the largest natural rutile deposits in the world.

SVM reported that scoping Study well underway to unlock this large-scale natural rutile project with a focus on ESG and sustainability.

The company noted that substantial additional resource growth is expected with the maiden MRE covering just 43% of the total 114km2 drill-defined rutile-mineralised footprint.

Drill density map displaying rutile grades in the uppermost portion of the Kasiya MRE
Drill density map displaying rutile grades in the uppermost portion of the Kasiya MRE

Kasiya project maiden MRE

The company has now reported the maiden Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for the very large-scale and high-grade Kasiya rutile project in Malawi. The Kasiya MRE was prepared by independent consultants, Placer Consulting Pty Ltd, and reported in accordance with the JORC Code (2012 Edition).

The maiden MRE for Kasiya, a major technical milestone for the Company’s flagship, large, high-grade rutile deposit in Malawi is as shown below.

SVM said that the inferred resource remains open to the northeast, east, and southwest. Wide spaced exploratory drilling has confirmed the mineralised rutile footprint extends beyond the current constraints of the inferred resource boundary.

The Kasiya MRE is presented at various cut-off grades is as shown below.

High demand, supply woes drive rutile prices

Natural rutile is the rarest and highest-grade source of titanium that is favoured by pigment producers due to its lower carbon footprint and lower levels of impurities. It is also used in the titanium metal industry and as a welding component, which aligns it with the industrial sectors and construction.

The rutile market has been in supply deficit with prices rising steadily over the last 12 months. This is due to increased demand coupled with existing global rutile reserves being in overall decline and limited additional supply forecast to come online in the near to medium term.

Declining reserves, limited new deposits

Current sources of natural rutile are in decline as several operations’ reserves are depleting concurrently with declining ore grades, including Iluka Resources’ (Iluka) Sierra Rutile and Base Resources’ Kwale operations in Kenya. Additionally, there are limited new deposits forecast to come online, and hence supplies of natural rutile are likely to remain in structural deficit.

Kasiya now a significant global deposit

The company said that the major milestone of delivering the maiden MRE at Kasiya positions it as one of the largest and pre-eminent rutile deposits in the world.

The company said that the cut-off of 0.70% presents a rutile grade of 1.01% which places Kasiya as one of the largest known rutile deposits in the world and as directly comparable to its closest peer Sierra Rutile.

Summary of major rutile dominant resources across the world are as shown below.

The company said that Kasiya could significantly impact the titanium industry with the potential to displace carbon, energy, and waste-intensive alternatives (synthetic rutile and titania slag).

Potential for substantial expansion

The Company now has a total of ~114km2 of drilled, high-grade rutile mineralisation (Kasiya 89km2 + Nsaru 25km2).

SVM noted that the area covered by the Kasiya MRE is just 49km2 or 43% of the 114km2 drill-defined rutile-mineralised footprint. The company said that the opportunity to significantly expand on the maiden MRE in the near to medium term is therefore substantial.

Sovereign said that the peripheral zones at Kasiya with nominal 800m x 800m drill spacing will be infilled to allow this material to be included in a future MRE. The company said that Nsaru deposit also requires further infill and extensional drilling before it can be brought into the MRE.

Updates and next steps

SVM announced that step-out drilling at Kasiya and Nsaru is continuing with multiple field drilling teams deployed. The company said that additional rutile mineralisation delineated should result in further future additions to the MRE.

Drilling program

Sovereign said that at Kasiya, a two rig, ~150-hole infill core drilling program is due to commence this week with the aim of bringing the central high-grade zone into the Indicated resource category so that it can form the basis of the Scoping Study.

The company announced that aggressive drilling programs are planned and already underway with expansion, extensional and infill drilling continuing to enable future resource upgrades and extensions which are targeted for Q4 2021. This includes two core drilling rigs are set to be mobilised next week, with a planned +150 hole core program with the aim of upgrading the central, high-grade parts of Kasiya to JORC Indicated category; and continued step-out hand-auger drilling at Kasiya and Nsaru to expand the overall JORC resource with multiple drill teams mobilised across the Company’s +2,600km2 ground package.

Scoping study

SVM said that Kasiya’s Scoping Study is targeted for completion in late 2021 with multiple components well underway, including mining method and pit optimisation studies which now incorporate the outcomes of the MRE; tailings disposal design and methodology studies; continued metallurgical test-work now focused on variability; investigation of a potential graphite by-product; and commencement of the environmental and social impact studies.

It is a remarkable result to achieve the maiden JORC mineral resource estimate of this scale, grade and global significance in under 18 months”

Management comments

Sovereign’s Managing Director sJulian Stephens said: “It is a remarkable result to achieve the maiden JORC mineral resource estimate of this scale, grade and global significance in under 18 months since discovery. We believe this maiden resource is just the beginning and expect to upgrade and expand the resource over the coming quarters.

The Company is surging forward with the Kasiya Scoping Study which will target a large-scale natural rutile operation to help address the supply deficit and reduce the titanium industry’s environmental footprint.”

Image Source:  Sovereign Metals Limited

Written By Jonathan Norris
Jonathan is a founder of and has been covering the resources industry since 2018. With over 17 years experience in print, broadcast and online media, Jonathan has seen first hand the transformative effect of online niche media.