The company reported an indicated and inferred saprolite resource estimate of 28.8 million tonnes at 7.1% total graphitic carbon at a 4% cut-off, which it said confirmed Malingunde as the world’s largest reported soft saprolite-hosted graphite resource.
Included in this was a high grade component of 8.9Mt at 9.9% TGC at a 7.5% cut-off, which Sovereign said would be the focus of a scoping study set to start this quarter.
Sovereign said the soft saprolite was located within 30m of the surface, and would be free-dig with very low strip ratios, which it said should equate to lower life-of-mine mining costs.
Unlike its peers with resources in hard rock deposits, the location of the graphite in soft saprolites meant the material would not require primary crushing or grinding – removing the need for a crushing or grinding circuit and thereby reducing processing costs.
The project’s proximity to the Malawian capital city of Liongwe also meant easier access to existing infrastructure, including rai, water, power and labour.
Sovereign managing director Julian Stephens said the company aimed to leverage the project’s advantages, “including its potential to be a very low operating expenditure and low capital expenditure operation with best-in-class margins,” he said.
Testwork released earlier this month revealed the Malingunde graphite had high expansion ratios, making it suitable for the production of high value graphite foils, paper and knitted tape.
Shares in Sovereign were up 9.5% or A1c to 11.5c in morning trade, valuing the company at $26.1 million.