RNS Number : 8296I

AfriTin Mining Ltd

07 December 2022

7 December 2022

The information contained within this announcement is deemed by the Company to constitute inside information as stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulations (EU) No. 596/2014 (MAR) as in force in the United Kingdom pursuant to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Upon the publication of this announcement via Regulatory Information Service (RIS), this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain.

AfriTin Mining Limited

("AfriTin" or the "Company")

Lithium and Tantalum Product Development Update

AfriTin Mining Limited (AIM: ATM), an African technology metals mining company with a portfolio of mining and exploration assets in Namibia, provides an update on its lithium and tantalum product development programme.

The object of the programme is to demonstrate the potential commercial viability of a lithium petalite concentrate co-product from the Uis Mine ("Uis"), and provide samples for potential offtake partners, whilst simultaneously de-risking the development of commercial-scale processing plant for lithium. In addition, the programme also includes the implementation of a full-scale tantalum separation circuit to produce a tantalum concentrate by-product from the tantalum contained in the existing tin concentrate product.

Milestones Achieved

-- Lithium laboratory test work has produced a high-grade, ultra-low iron lithium petalite concentrate at 4.34% Li(2) O and low contaminants levels of 0.03% Fe(2) O(3) and 0.93% alkalis (Na(2) O + K(2) O);

-- Test work to convert lithium petalite concentrate to battery-grade lithium hydroxide has been initiated with Nagrom, one of Australia's leading mineral processing companies;

   --      Commercial engagements with lithium petalite concentrate offtakers have been initiated; 
   --      Infill exploration drilling programme for lithium and tantalum over V1/V2 orebody complete; 

-- Tantalum laboratory test work produced a saleable 24% tantalum oxide (Ta2O5) concentrate; and

-- Nicholas Rathjen appointed as Head of Business and Commercial Development to advance the commercial aspects of AfriTin's lithium and tantalum potential.

Anticipated News Flow

-- Larger, pilot scale lithium metallurgical testing, which will also produce samples for potential offtakers, has commenced, with first results expected in Q1 2023

-- First results from laboratory metallurgical test work with Nagrom to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide expected in Q3 2023;

-- A lithium pilot plant, intended for processing bulk ore samples at Uis, is progressing to construction phase, with long lead items ordered. Construction is scheduled to complete in Q2 2023;

-- Updated lithium and tantalum Mineral Resource Estimate for lithium and tantalum expected in Q1 2023 following final infill drilling results; and

-- A full-scale, integrated tantalum separation circuit is progressing to construction phase, with long lead items ordered and construction scheduled to complete in Q2 2023. First production of tantalum concentrate is expected by Q3 2023.

Anthony Viljoen (CEO) commented:

"We are excited to see our lithium product development programme progress on three fronts, namely updating the Mineral Resource Estimate, commencement of lithium pilot scale metallurgical testing, and taking the first steps to explore commercial engagements for lithium petalite concentrate offtake.

"The excellent laboratory test result of a high-grade, ultra-low iron petalite gives us the confidence to advance to the pilot phase of our lithium product development programme. We look forward to establishing production of lithium petalite concentrate and initiating testing with potential offtakers in the glassware and ceramics market, for whom petalite is a key raw material, as well as with producers of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate for the battery market.

"In addition to lithium, the Company is moving ahead with the construction of a tantalum separation circuit, which will be integrated with the existing tin concentrator plant. The new circuit will magnetically separate tantalum minerals from the existing tin concentrate stream into a second saleable concentrate.

"The Company is fully focussed on unlocking early value for its stakeholders through fast-tracking the development programme towards production. We believe that the addition of lithium and tantalum by-products will confirm the Company as a globally significant, high-margin producer of technology metals.

"Lastly, we welcome Nicholas Rathjen into the role of Head of Business and Commercial Development at AfriTin. Nicholas will focus on advancing the commercial aspects of our lithium strategy as we progress towards becoming a fully-fledged lithium producer."

Lithium Metallurgical Testing

The results of the first phase test work of laboratory metallurgical test work for the beneficiation of lithium bearing mineral petalite was announced on 24 May 2022. Geolabs Global, an independent test facility in South Africa, produced a high-grade, ultra-low iron petalite concentrate at 4.34% Li(2) O, with low contaminants levels of 0.03% Fe(2) O(3) and 0.93% alkalis (Na(2) O + K(2) O), using a process that pre-concentrates petalite through dense medium separation ("DMS"), followed by upgrading to a higher-grade petalite concentrate using milling and flotation. These qualities are typical of petalite concentrates used as lithium feedstock in the premium glass and ceramics industry which requires a high lithia to iron ratio. The Company also expects the concentrate to be suitable for conversion to battery-grade lithium carbonate or hydroxide. Laboratory flotation test work continues at ANZAPLAN (Germany) with aim the of optimising flotation performance and testing alternative reagent regimes.

In addition, laboratory test work for the production of lithium hydroxide from the Uis petalite concentrate has been initiated at Nagrom one of Australia's leading mineral processing companies, with results expected in Q3 2023 . Lithium hydroxide serves as a key raw material for the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries.

Larger, pilot scale metallurgical testing has commenced, which involves the processing of bulk samples ranging from 1 to 100 tonnes of mineralised material. By scaling up the test work the Company intends to achieve the following improvements:

   --      Increase the confidence of the lithium beneficiation parameters and process flow design; 

-- Improve variability modelling for the mineralised material and its beneficiation characteristics;

   --      Generate enough concentrate to initiate downstream test work with potential offtakers. 

The pilot scale testing programme includes the following work streams in progress:

   --      DMS test work on a large bulk ore sample at Bond Equipment (South Africa); 
   --      Pilot scale milling and flotation test work at Nagrom (Australia); 

-- Hyperspectral ore sorting test work with Steinert (Germany) and Tomra (Germany) to investigate alternative or supplementary methods of petalite pre-concentration. The hyperspectral ore sorting test work runs in parallel to x-ray transmission ore sorting test work for tin.

The results of the second phase of metallurgical test work are expected during Q1 2023 and will inform the process flow design ("PFD") of the full-scale, integrated lithium beneficiation circuit at the current Uis Mine processing plant. A preliminary process flow design for an integrated lithium, tin and tantalum processing facility is presented in Figure 2.

Early-stage metallurgical test work has also been initiated on mineralised material from ML133 to establish the lithium beneficiation potential of these pegmatites.

Lithium Pilot Plant

As part of the pilot phase of metallurgical testing the Company has set out to construct a lithium pilot plant adjacent to the current tin processing plant of the Uis Mine on the licence ML134. Basic engineering design for a lithium pilot plant has been completed and long lead items have been ordered. The project has now entered the construction phase with commissioning projected for Q2 2023.

The pilot plant comprises a crushing and screening section, followed by a DMS and gravity separation circuit, and will be built at a total capital cost of US$5 million. A milling and flotation section for petalite may be added as the next stage of the pilot plant, although pilot test campaigns for flotation will first be conducted at off-site testing facilities. The commercial viability of lithium petalite extraction via DMS technology is sufficiently well established to warrant its inclusion in this stage of the pilot plant, with the intention of fast-tracking its production and marketing.

The lithium pilot plant is intended to process bulk sample discard material from the current tin processing plant and run-of-mine ore from the current mining pit, as well as mineralised material from ML133 and ML129. The plant will have a processing capacity of approximately 20 tph. Pilot campaigns will test various processing configurations, with the aim of refining the process flow design. It is also intended that the pilot plant will produce lithium concentrate, both for further offtake testing and development.

Tantalum By-Product Development

The results of the laboratory metallurgical test work for tantalum were announced on 18 November 2021. Tantalum bearing columbite-group minerals was separated from the tin bearing cassiterite using dry electromagnetic separation, producing a concentrate containing 24% Ta(2) O(5) . As a result of this successful test, a tantalum separation will be constructed as an integrated circuit to the existing tin concentrating plant. Basic engineering has been completed and long lead items have been ordered. Commissioning of the circuit is scheduled for Q2 2023, with first tantalum product is expected in Q3 2023.

The tantalum separation circuit comprises a dryer, vibrating screen, and over-belt electromagnetic separators. The total estimated capital cost of the circuit is US$1 million. The circuit will be fed with concentrate exiting the wet concentration circuits. The moist concentrate will be dried, classified, and each size fraction treated by a separate magnetic separator, after which the non-magnetic fractions will be combined into a tin concentrate, whereas the magnetic fractions (excluding the low-intensity iron-rich fraction) will be combined into a saleable tantalum concentrate.

Lithium & Tantalum Mineral Resources

The Company owns three mining licences with lithium occurrences: ML134, ML129 and ML133 (Figure 1). The lithium occurs in pegmatites that are also enriched in tin and tantalum. ML134 holds the Company's flagship asset, the Uis Mine which includes an inferred JORC (2012) compliant lithium resource of 450,000 tonnes of Li(2) O at the V1/V2 pegmatite. An infill drilling programme of 7,600 m over this pegmatite has been concluded with the aim of increasing the Mineral Resource Estimate ("MRE") classification for the lithium resource to the indicated and measured categories. The final assay results are expected in December 2022. An updated MRE for lithium and tantalum is expected during Q1 2023.

ML134 contains an additional 14 historically mined pegmatites along a 7 km strike, where exploration work to date has demonstrated that the mineralogy of all these pegmatites is similar to the V1/V2 pegmatite. This substantiates historical mining practices which sourced material from all these pegmatites and processed the material through a single plant. These pegmatites occur within 4 km of the current Uis processing plant. Exploration drilling is planned to continue over these pegmatite bodies with the goal of expanding the lithium, tin and tantalum mineral resource estimates on this licence.

Lithium mineralisation has also been reported on the proximal ML129 and ML133 licences (announced on 2 March 2023 and 24 November 2022 respectively) and geological sampling confirms the presence of lithium mineralisation over more than 70 pegmatites. The main lithium bearing mineral on ML134 and ML133 has been identified as petalite. On ML129, however, surface sampling has identified the presence of spodumene, whose distribution will be further investigated during future exploration drilling programmes.

Appointment of Head of Business and Commercial Development

The Company is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicholas Rathjen as Head of Business and Commercial Development. He will focus on advancing the commercial aspects of our lithium and tantalum strategy. Nicholas brings a strong commercial capability having led early-stage lithium projects through development, definitive feasibility studies, execution of offtake agreements with global counter parties through to execution of commercial transactions. His most recent role was head of corporate development at Prospect Resources (ASX:PSC), where he led the strategic process to advance the Arcadia Project, featuring petalite and spodumene, which culminated in the sale of this significant asset to leading new energy company, Huayou Cobalt, for US$422 million.


Figure 1 : AfriTin's Uis Mine and mineral licence locality map showing the position of ML134, ML129 and ML133.

Figure 2 : Simplified process flow design for an integrated lithium, tin and tantalum processing plant (subject to further process flow optimisation). The parts of the process flow design enclosed by the red dashed lines indicate possible future additions to the processing plant.

Glossary of abbreviations

 DMS              Dense medium separation 
 ILiA             International Tin Association 
 km               Kilometre 
 Li               Symbol for lithium 
 Li -> Li (2) O   Metal to metal-oxide conversion factor of 2.153 
 Li (2) O         Lithium oxide 
 m                Metre 
 MRE              Mineral Resource Estimate 
 PPM              Parts per million 
 Sn               Symbol for tin 
 Ta               Symbol for tantalum 
 tpa              Tonnes per annum 
 tph              Tonnes per hour 

Glossary of Technical Terms

 Dense Medium Separation   An ore beneficiation method in which minerals of relatively high or low specific gravity 
                           separated from gangue using a hydro cyclone and a dense medium. 
 Pegmatite                 An igneous rock typically of granitic composition, which is distinguished from other 
                           rocks by the extremely coarse and systematically variable size of its crystals, or by an 
                           of crystals with skeletal, graphic, or other strongly directional growth habits, or by a 
                           spatial zonation of mineral assemblages, including monomineralic zones 
 Petalite                  A lithium aluminium phyllosilicate mineral LiAlSi(4) O(10) , occurring in lithium-bearing 
                            pegmatites, often with other lithium minerals such as spodumene and lepidolite. 
 AfriTin Mining Limited                +27 (11) 268 6555 
 Anthony Viljoen, CEO 
                                       +44 (0) 207 220 
 Nominated Adviser                      1666 
 WH Ireland Limited 
  Katy Mitchell 
 Corporate Advisor and Joint Broker 
 H&P Advisory Limited 
  Andrew Chubb 
  Jay Ashfield                         +44 (0) 20 7907 
  Nilesh Patel                          8500 
 Stifel Nicolaus Europe Limited 
  Ashton Clanfield 
  Callum Stewart                       +44 (0) 20 7710 
  Varun Talwar                          7600 
 Tavistock Financial PR (United        +44 (0) 207 920 
  Kingdom)                              3150 
 Emily Moss 
  Catherine Drummond 
  Adam Baynes 

About AfriTin Mining Limited

Notes to Editors

AfriTin Mining Limited is a London-listed technology metals mining company with a vision to create a portfolio of globally significant, conflict-free, producing and exploration assets. The Company's flagship asset is the Uis Tin Mine in Namibia, formerly the world's largest hard-rock open cast tin mine.

AfriTin is managed by an experienced board of directors and management team with a current strategy to ramp-up production at the Uis Mine in Namibia to more than 10,000 tonnes of tin concentrate and 350,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate in a Phase 2 expansion, having reached Phase 1 commercial production in 2020. The Company strives to capitalise on the solid supply/demand fundamentals of tin and lithium by developing a critical mass of resource inventory, achieving production in the near term and further scaling production by consolidating assets in Africa.

This information is provided by RNS, the news service of the London Stock Exchange. RNS is approved by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a Primary Information Provider in the United Kingdom. Terms and conditions relating to the use and distribution of this information may apply. For further information, please contact rns@lseg.com or visit www.rns.com.

RNS may use your IP address to confirm compliance with the terms and conditions, to analyse how you engage with the information contained in this communication, and to share such analysis on an anonymised basis with others as part of our commercial services. For further information about how RNS and the London Stock Exchange use the personal data you provide us, please see our Privacy Policy.



(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 07, 2022 02:00 ET (07:00 GMT)

Andrada Mining (LSE:ATM)
Historical Stock Chart
From Mar 2023 to Mar 2023 Click Here for more Andrada Mining Charts.
Andrada Mining (LSE:ATM)
Historical Stock Chart
From Mar 2022 to Mar 2023 Click Here for more Andrada Mining Charts.