Manganese investor here mulling T&T processing plant

The Canadian firm Reunion Gold Corporation, which has a manganese mining project in Matthews Ridge, Region One, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago to explore the possibility of building a manganese processing plant there.

“In addition to its proximity to Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago offers numerous benefits including competitive power costs, deep sea port facilities, dedicated areas for industrial projects and proximity to silico-manganese markets,” the company said in a statement on Monday. The MOU sets out the terms under which the parties will collaborate to evaluate the potential development by Reunion of a silico- manganese plant in Trinidad.

National Energy is a subsidiary of the state-owned National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited. It is engaged in the promotion of new energy-based industries and the provision and management of industrial estates, port and marine facilities to support the industries in that country.

Reunion noted that following the release of the pre-feasibility study of the Matthews Ridge Project in July 2013, Reunion performed various desktop studies, including assessing the viability of reducing the output of the Matthews Ridge Project in the North-West District, Region One and converting the manganese concentrate into silico- manganese alloys in Trinidad and Tobago.

“This is a significant development for the company. While Matthews Ridge as a stand-alone mining operation is an attractive investment opportunity, we believe that the construction of a silico-manganese plant in Trinidad and Tobago to be supplied by Matthews Ridge ore may potentially allow us to create a vertically integrated operation which could become one of the world’s lowest cost producers of silico-manganese,” David Fennell, chairman of Reunion, was quoted as saying.

The company also announced that it had retained Worley Parsons to conduct a scoping-level study to assess the parameters relating to the possible development of the silico-manganese plant in Trinidad. G Mining Services Ltd. was also retained to combine the results of the Worley Parsons’ scoping study with the results of the July 2013 pre-feasibility study related to the production of manganese concentrate from the Matthews Ridge Project, it said.

The company anticipates releasing the results of a preliminary economic assessment of the combined studies, including various output scenarios, by the end of this quarter.

Reunion is a mineral exploration company engaged in the exploration and development of the Matthews Ridge manganese project located in the North West District. The Matthews Ridge Project consists of four prospecting licenses covering an area in and around the former Matthews Ridge mine. In July 2013, the Company announced a proven and probable reserve estimate of 26.3 million tonnes of manganese with an average grade of 14.2% manganese. Manganese is the fourth largest metal consumed in the world, behind iron, aluminum and copper. It is a key component in steel and iron production.

Last year, the company had said that that production is scheduled over a period of 10 years with an open pit mine and conventional washing and gravity plant processing 2.8 million tonnes of ore per year. Its study envisioned production of 750,000 tonnes of manganese concentrate per year over a 10-year mine life at an initial capital cost of US$233 million. It forecast an internal rate of return of 15.7% based on consensus manganese price forecasts. Further, the study said that there was potential for expansion as satellite manganese deposits offer significant potential to extend mine life or lead to expansion.

The commissioning of the manganese mine is slated for mid-2014.

A subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation had operated a manganese mine in the area from 1962 to 1968. In excess of 1.66 million tonnes of manganese concentrate was shipped from the mine site during that period. Reunion was awarded the rights to Matthews Ridge in September 2010 and in March 2011, the company signed a mineral agreement with the Government of Guyana.