Canadian mining firm Mkango Resources Limited has said it has started an extensive hand-auger drilling and soil sampling programme to identify rutile prospects within its 869 square- kilometre license area in Mchinji District.
Rutile is the purest, highest-grade natural form of titanium dioxide and is the preferred feedstock in manufacturing titanium pigment and producing titanium metal.
Finely powdered rutile is a brilliant white pigment and is used in paints, plastics, paper, foods, and other applications that call for a bright white colour. It has also been widely used in the production of glass, porcelain and ceramics, as it is a valuable colouring agent. It can also be used for adding colour to steels and copper alloys.
The firm said in a statement the drill programme follows reconnaissance work, which resulted in the discovery of rutile during a shallow soil sampling and auger programme completed in September this year.
The firm says the initial exploration work was limited by the equipment available in Malawi during the Covid-19 pandemic but that it was encouraged that the highest titanium dioxide grades were returned by nine consecutive samples in a single auger hole.
Mkango says early-stage results show geological similarities to saprolite-hosted rutile mineralisation recently discovered on the adjoining Sovereign Metals Ltd licence to the east.
This, according to the miner, suggests potential for discovering high-grade rutile deposits within Mkango’s large licence area, which is adjacent to an area that Sovereign Metals believes could potentially be a new province of rutile mineralisation.
Mkango Chief Geologist, Paul Armitage, says the drilling programme and soil sampling will help the firm to target saprolite-hosted mineralisation.
“It will test the extent of the rutile and ilmenite mineralisation over a large part of our licence area and aims to confirm the potential for discovering high-grade rutile deposits in the licence.
“Given that rutile is in high demand and that there is a shortage of supply, confirmation of rutile prospects on the Mchinji licence could prove to be highly significant for the company. We look forward to updating the market in the coming weeks as we receive the results from the laboratory,” Armitage says.
Mining Minister, Rashid Gaffar, was not immediately available for comment.