Critical minerals, Mining services, News

Element 25’s Butcherbird flies high

Manganese developer Element 25 (E25) will accelerate activities for the planned expansion of its Butcherbird manganese project in Western Australia.

E25 will focus on areas such as process optimisation, front-end engineering and design activities, project finance and permitting.

The planned expansion was first outlined in the Butcherbird feasibility study released in January, which detailed the opportunity to expand production at the Butcherbird mine in order to take advantage of the 260-million-tonne (Mt) resource base and increase commercial returns by increasing production to a nominal 1.1Mt per annum of manganese concentrate at lower unit costs.

The feasibility study estimated a capital cost of $49.8 million.

“The Butcherbird project hosts a world-class manganese deposit with more than 260Mt in resources, which will underpin the mine as a long-life producing asset,” Element 25 managing director Justin Brown said.

“The decision to progress with the Stage 2 expansion project comes at a time when manganese ore prices are showing strong gains after a period of depressed pricing during 2023.”

As part of the expansion, E25 has engaged specialist engineering firm ProjX to manage the engineering design phase of Butcherbird and serve as the owner’s engineer throughout the project’s execution.

ProjX will also assist with engineering, procurement and construction management activities to guarantee a streamlined and well-managed project implementation plan.

E25 has also made changes to its crushing circuit to minimise impacts such as clay-rich laterite run-of-mine feed material in order to maximise plant utilisation and throughput.

“They (the operational changes) aim to minimise potential blockages and to future-proof the plant against expected expansions, ensuring sustained operational excellence and reduced downtime,” E25 said.

The company is also approaching the final design stages for a new dense media separation (DMS) circuit, which will use results from ongoing test work with typical feed material.

“The visual observations from the test work are encouraging, and the team is awaiting the analytical results and results from the subsequent tests of the >40mm fraction to further validate the effectiveness of the DMS process under these operational parameters,” E25 said.

“These findings will play a crucial role in optimising the final design of the DMS circuit to enhance both the efficiency and throughput of the processing operations.”

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