Manganese on the horizon
North America’s only electrolytic manganese deposit looks very promising
American Manganese Inc. has completed three phases of drilling at Artillery Peak, the company’s low-grade manganese deposit located in Arizona. The resulting NI 43-101 resource indicates 220,943,528 tonnes and an inferred 56,338,329 tonnes of 2.84 per cent manganese.
“It is robust, and according to the PEA we did, could make us the lowest-cost producer in the world,” said Larry Reaugh, CEO of American Manganese, a company based out of White Rock, British Columbia.
North American interest in electrolytic manganese has been sporadic, even though it is impossible to produce stainless steel without it, and electrolytic manganese dioxide is the largest component in lithium ion batteries, commonly used in electric vehicles, laptops and cellphones.
American Manganese is the only company in North America focusing on the metal. China currently controls 98 per cent of the world’s supply and produces it at a cost that American Manganese is confident it can beat, leveraging its Artillery Peak project and a proprietary hydrometallurgical extraction process that is environmentally benign.
“We use no tailing ponds and use chilling to get rid of the salts,” said Reaugh. “We use nano plating to purify water and have a 70 per cent (water) recovery rate. The tailings are dry and shown to be benign, and they are used as backfilling.”
Demand for electrolytic manganese metal has risen continuously since 2002 and is expected to surpass the current supply before 2020, with China leading the way in demand. Artillery Peak is scheduled to begin production in 2014 and produce approximately 50,000 tonnes of electrolytic manganese metal per year over a 17-year mine life.