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Bushveld Minerals set for busy few months

Bushveld Minerals is set for a busy few months as it develops its flagship iron ore project in South Africa.

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A recent maiden resource was better than expected

Bushveld Minerals (LON:BMN) is set for a busy few months as it develops its flagship iron ore project in South Africa.

The property, also called Bushveld, is a multi-commodity asset, but the main focus has centred around the P-Q deposit, where an upgraded resource of 939mln inferred and indicated tonnes of iron along an 8.5km strike has been defined. There are also credits of vanadium and titanium.

Based on the previous 718mln tonne resource, a scoping study on PQ indicated a first phase net present value (NPV) of US$188mln after capital expenditure of US$126mln and 2.2 mln tonnes a year of product.

The company is now looking at the viability of other deposits on the large licence area and the potential to improve overall economics, with two scoping studies pending.

It comes as the iron ore price has been dropping off in recent weeks prompted by oversupply and weakening growth in China.

Indeed, analysts at Credit Suisse put the market at a surplus for another two years and forecast a price of US$90 a tonne for the second half.

Another option Bushveld is considering, as evidenced by several, albeit technical recent statements, is exploiting the phosphate layer, which lies on top of the PQ zone.

Earlier this month, a maiden resource for this layer was published, which came in better than expected.

This phosphate concentrate could be sold for use in agriculture and industry. The resource was measured at a JORC inferred 442mln tonnes.

It extends down to a maximum depth of 400 metres along a strike of 8.5km.

Bushveld's chief executive Fortune Mojapelo recently explained to Proactive how the firm had always seen the phosphate layer as a bonus to PQ.

"It would comprise what would ordinarily be waste in an ordinary open pit scenario - what we have in this instance is in fact not waste but a resource," he said.

Analyst Craig Foggo, at broker RFC Ambrian, explained how there would be no mining costs to extract it. "At the moment it forms part of the strip profile - it's waste," he said.

In March, the broker noted how, despite the low grades, metallurgical work had upgraded the phosphate concentrate to 37.9% from 33.3%. A marketable product is above 29%.

It also drew comparisons with Phalaborwa, a neighbouring phosphate mine, which yields a 35% phosphorus pentoxide concentrate from a 7-8% head-grade using flotation.

The extent to which the phosphate project could enhance the overall P-Q project is the subject of an eagerly awaited scoping study expected in the next eight to 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, also on the cards is a further scoping study on Bushveld's vanadium project, which also lies on the 7,500 hectare site.

The project, which has had 52mln tonnes of vanadium rich magnetite confirmed in just one of three horizons, has two possible processing routes: smelting and salt roast.

The scoping study for the vanadium is due this month and should be the start of a stream of news.

Quick facts: Bushveld Minerals Ltd

Price: 21 GBX

LSE:BMN
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £242.12 m
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