Mining and exploration firm Sovereign Metals Limited is optimistic about the future of rutile deposit use in the country, with initial plans for additional mining close to completion.
Sovereign Metals Limited Managing Director Julian Stephens said this in an interview Tuesday.
He indicated that the company is conducting a scoping study of rutile deposits in Kasiya, slated for completion in November, and that this is a high-level study that will inform mining operations moving forward.
Among other things, he said, the study is the first phase of technical and economic studies in the mining project and will determine what they will be able to mine, design formulations for processing plants, infrastructure such as roads and logistic options available, in order to be able to export the mined materials.
“The outlook is very good. We are very excited and optimistic. At this stage, it is the second biggest rutile deposit in the world but with more work, with more drilling and more exploration, we believe it will become the biggest deposit in the world,
“The market for rutile is very good at the moment; there is actually a supply shortage in the world, and that’s impacting prices; as such, prices are very good at the moment,” Stephens said.
This follows a Maiden Resource Estimate (MRE) the company released last month that established Kasiya as one of the largest natural rutile deposits in the world, second to a deposit in Sierra Leone.
The resource totals 644 million tonnes (mt), while in Sierra Leone it totals 715 mt.
In an interview, local mining expert Grain Malunga said the rutile deposits in the country could be a good source of revenue if properly managed.
‘Most of it is for export, so it will generate forex and, if we can handle it nicely, in terms of value addition, it can bring in more technologies and also improve levels of industrialisation in the country.
“We should encourage the companies to do value addition locally, not just sending [the mined rutile] outside. We also need to find ways to link with our local economy and industries so that we can manufacture for exports using the same rutile,” Malunga said.
The main uses of rutile include manufacturing of refractory ceramic, as a pigment, and for the production of titanium metal, with finely powdered rutile being used in paints, plastics, papers and food among other things.
The Malawi government identifies mining as one of the sectors that could potentially generate economic growth for the country.