Manganese price spike bolsters interest in Black Canyon’s BMF assets

The recent spike in manganese pricing over the past few months has increased interest in Black Canyon’s (ASX: BCA) projects across the Balfour Manganese Field (BMF) as previous surface sampling returns high-grade manganese results. 

Manganese benchmark ore prices continues to rise rapidly. Since the end of March to the week ending 10 May 2024, the price of 44% manganese ore has increased 65%.

The 44% Mn benchmark price at the end of March was US$4.20/dmtu and has since risen to over US$7.00/dmtu.

Updating the market in relation to a planned heritage and drill program over the W2 prospect located on the Wandanya tenement, Black Canyon Managing Director Brendan Cummins says the prospect represents a promising target for higher-grade manganese mineralisation, potentially linked to a structurally controlled hydrothermal system. 

“We are eager to evaluate the potential dimensions of the surface mineralisation and determine how the grade profile trends at depth. The company has a strong track record of exploration discovery which we aim to continue at Wandanya,” Cummins says.

“We are also progressing the Scoping Study on the 100% owned KR1 and KR2 deposits which is trending positively targeting increased processing throughput and reduced logistics pathway to Port Hedland to lower operating costs.”

The main body of mineralisation at the Wandanya W2 prospect is 300m long and 150m wide and the northern extension is 1,750m long. No previous drilling has been undertaken on the targets at Wandanya.

The MD notes that while a recent spike in manganese pricing over the past few months has increased interest in its projects, Black Canyon’s focus remains on ensuring future operations are viable during a low pricing cycle, while being well-positioned to benefit from price surges. 

“This is why large potential long-life assets, like those we have discovered and are developing at the BMF, are intrinsically valuable,” he adds.

Heritage surveys are scheduled to begin over the Wandanya Project in late June in preparation for drilling the following quarter.

Drilling will follow up a previously completed detailed sampling campaign, which returned several high-grade manganese samples, between 80 and 100m (across and along strike) apart. 

Previous results include WDRC009 (58.5% Mn), WDRC011 (57.9% Mn), WDRC010 (57.8% Mn), and WDRC008 (53.3% Mn).

Given the grade of the samples and similarities in geological setting to the Woodie Woodie manganese mine the company says the results received from W2 are significant. 

Woodie Woodie has multiple orebodies ranging in size from 50,000 tonnes to 5Mt with an average deposit size of about 500,000t. There is scope within the W2 prospect and along strike to find smaller tonnage, medium to high-grade manganese deposits which will be complementary to the manganese-enriched shale-hosted discoveries across the Balfour Manganese Field.

Manganese continues to have attractive long-term fundamentals where it is essential and non-substitutable in the manufacturing of alloys for the steel industry and a critical mineral in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries.

The lack of high-grade ore supplies has further driven prices of the 37% and 44% Mn benchmarks as smelters compete for limited available high-grade ores. The longer-term suspension of the South 32 Groote Eylandt operations continues to drive manganese prices higher with production planned to recommence in Q3 FY 2025 (March 2025). 

Black Canyon has consolidated a significant land holding totalling 2,100km2 in the underexplored Balfour Manganese Field and across the Oakover Basin, in Western Australia.

The emerging potential for the Balfour Manganese Field is evident by the size of the geological basin, mineral resources identified to date, distance from port, potential for shallow open pit mining and a likely beneficiated Mn oxide concentrate product grading between 30 and 33% Mn. 

Black Canyon holds several exploration licenses 100% within the Balfour Manganese Field along with a 75% interest in the Carawine Joint Venture with ASX listed Carawine Resources Limited. A Global Mineral Resource (measured, indicated, and Inferred) of 314Mt @ 10.4% Mn has been defined across the Balfour Manganese Field projects.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Black Canyon
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.