UK firm granted Mchinji nickel license
…Mkango targeting electric vehicle market
By Marcel Chimwala
UK firm, Mkango Resources, has been granted an Exclusive Prospecting Licence for a nickel-cobalt deposit at Chimimbe Hill in the district of Mchinji.
The Chimimbe Hill licence covers an area of 98.48 sq km and features laterite and saprolite hosted nickel, cobalt, chrome and other mineralization.
Mkango Resources President Alexander Lemon says Mkango, which is listed on Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange, will carry out prospecting work in the area based on significant historical exploration which was already completed, including pitting, drilling and metallurgical test work.
Magnetic anomalies in the licence area indicate exploration potential for additional nickel-cobalt mineralization,
He explains that Mkango will re-evaluate the Chimimbe Hill deposit in the context of geophysical data produced by the recent World Bank financed airborne geophysical survey of Malawi, recent infrastructure developments in the region, potential synergies with the Company’s Songwe Hill rare earths project and Thambani uranium-tantalum-niobium project.
The company will look at options relating to sulphuric acid and/or alternative reagents supply, potential by-products, as well as opportunities to produce nickel and cobalt products for the battery electric vehicle market.
The evaluation of the licence will be funded from the Company’s existing working capital, which totalled US$869,479 as at September 30, 2017. Subsequently, Mkango announced the receipt of £241,995 (US$320,135) from the exercise of warrants.
We are delighted to have been granted the Chimimbe Hill nickel – cobalt exploration licence, which is consistent with our strategy to target raw materials and technologies geared to accelerating growth in the electric vehicle market.
Both nickel and cobalt are increasingly in demand as cathode materials for batteries in electric vehicles. This new licence, when combined with the Songwe Hill rare earths project and our collaboration with Metalysis on neodymium alloys for permanent magnets, positions Mkango as a potential future supplier of the critical raw materials used in both batteries and permanent magnet motors in electric vehicles.
We are commencing a full historical data review for Chimimbe Hill, including an evaluation of exploration potential from recent geophysics, and look forward to updating shareholders on this new licence and the recently announced transaction with Talaxis in due course.
The Chimimbe Hill nickel anomaly was discovered by the Malawian Geological Survey Department in 1968.
Mkango selected the deposit as an exploration target following comprehensive in-house analysis of available datasets including geological maps, historic mineral occurrences, remote sensing data and satellite imagery.
Chimimbe Hill is underlain by a deformed and metamorphosed ultramafic body associated with high grade metamorphic rocks of the Mozambique mobile belt.
Mkango’s main exploration target is the Songwe Hill rare earths’ deposit, which features carbonatite hosted rare earth mineralisation and was subject to previous exploration in the late 1980s.
Mkango completed an updated Pre-feasibility Study for the project in November 2015.
In November 2017, Mkango entered into an agreement with Talaxis Limited (“Talaxis”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong based Noble Group Limited, whereby, subject to regulatory approval, Talaxis will fully fund a bankable feasibility study for Songwe by investing £12 million (C$20 million) for a 49% interest in the project.
Talaxis will also have the option to acquire a further 26% interest in the project by arranging funding for project development. In addition, by investing a further £2 million (C$3.3 million), Talaxis may acquire a 49% interest in a new venture to be established by Mkango focused on neodymium alloy powders, magnet and other technologies.
The arrangement includes collaboration with UK based Metalysis Ltd which Mkango announced in September 2017, focused on advanced alloys using neodymium (a key rare earth component at Songwe) or praseodymium with other elements for permanent magnet manufacturing.
Permanent magnets are critical materials for most electric vehicles, direct drive wind turbines and many other high growth applications.
Talaxis and Mkango have also agreed to cooperate as preferred partners on rare earths projects worldwide and on other projects in Malawi.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 56 (December 2017).