Manuka Resources’ (ASX:MKR) low-cost South Taranaki Bight Project is anticipated to be in the bottom quartile of carbon dioxide emitters globally once the offshore iron sands project reaches production.
In a time where the world is pushing towards net zero carbon emissions and decarbonisation, Manuka Resources’ South Taranaki project has the potential to deliver a ‘very profitable, low-cost vanadium titano magnetite (VTM) resource’. It is also poised to have a low carbon footprint once in production.
Speaking to Mining.com.au, Manuka Resources Non-Executive Director Alan Eggers says the project will only generate half the amount of carbon dioxide per tonne of iron ore concentrate produced compared to some peers.
Manuka completed the purchase of Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) – South Taranaki project in November 2022, giving it access to the emerging vanadiferous titanomagnetite (VTM) project, which exposes Manuka to critical minerals, namely vanadium and titanium.
Eggers says a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) for the shallow offshore iron sands project has started and Manuka’s vision is for the project to recover an initial 5 million tonnes of VTM iron ore concentrate per annum over a 20-year mine life.
TTR had a 5Mtpa mining licence already approved and the next milestone for the company is to re-secure its Environment Protection Authority (EPA) marine discharge consent to commence mining operations.
The EPA’s Decision Making Committee will start this process in mid-February 2023.
The project is host to 11 pounds (lbs) per tonne vanadium (V2O5) concentrate and 8.5% titanium dioxide. Eggers says the company can recover 75-80% of these secondary critical minerals at a time when vanadium is noted to be at the forefront of a utility-scale storage for vanadium flow batteries (VFB), he says.
Eggers told this news service the 62kg of CO2 the project is poised to produce represents the amount of carbon generated via various activities being conducted on the project, including the recovery of mineral sands from the sea floor.
“The 62kg of CO2 produced is the amount of carbon generated by recovering the mineral sands from the sea floor. They are our total emissions and we know that because we have modelled the project and we know how much diesel we are burning per tonne concentrate.
That diesel is burnt in the ships and in the generators on board the ships, which strive the reverse osmosis plant and the mining equipment.”
Eggers says for a company to produce minerals necessary for a net zero future, such as vanadium, it is incumbent on Manuka to ensure the South Taranaki Bight Project was environmentally sustainable.
He adds that global demand for such commodities places even further importance that the project comes online in the right way.
“Vanadium is now at the forefront of a utility scale storage for vanadium flow batteries, as well vanadium has now been combined with lithium to produce safer lithium ion batteries that don’t explode, charge quicker, and last longer.
“Vanadium is now at the forefront of a utility scale storage for vanadium flow batteries”
It is a very green mining approach with very low emissions, some of the lowest in the world.”
Eggers says the company is set to achieve this feat thanks to the natural setting of the project itself, and that it does not have to follow in the same footsteps as other mining companies.
“Nature has already pre-prepared it, so compared to other mines around the world where you have to hard rock mine and spend a lot of energy grinding it to release and process the minerals, and then put them in extensive carbon emitting transport to be sent to ports, the coast, and the rail line, we don’t have to do these things, we just trench it up…and then its ready for export.
“The project itself is environmentally benign, it has very low environmental impact, there are no legacy issues with this…”
The project itself is environmentally benign, it has very low environmental impact, there are no legacy issues with this…we just simply recover the minerals from the top 5m of the sea floor and put it back as we go along.”
Meanwhile, the non-executive director also notes the company recently completed a capital raise of $4.1 million placement of new fully paid ordinary shares in late 2022. The capital is being used to carry on the development of the project, and to achieve the company’s goal of producing about 5Mtpa.
In addition, he reports Manuka has been working on the project since 2008-2009, and it is now only 2-3 years away from mining ahead of the re-grant of its environmental consents from New Zealand’s EPA.
“The capital raise is largely sustainable capital to carry on the development of the project…the funds will also be used toward metallurgical research to finalise our metallurgical recoveries of vanadium and titanium.
We have a very advanced PFS in place and we have the engineering, design, and technology in place to achieve 5 million tonne a year in recoveries.
We actually had our environmental consents granted but they were challenged in the courts, we have been through the court process, and now the EPA has to re-grant those. As soon as they re-grant those we can complete the Bankable Feasibility Study and proceed to mine.”
Manuka Resources is an ASX-listed company that represents one of Australia’s newest gold and silver producers. The company is currently focused on operations at the Wonawinta silver and base metals Project within the highly prospective Cobar Basin in New South Wales, as well as reassessing a number of resources and targets to continue gold and silver production.
The Southern Taranaki Bight project represents a ‘world-class’ Tier 1 project situated offshore of the west coast of New Zealand’s north island.
Images: Manuka Resources Ltd