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Reach Resources stumps up high-grade manganese in Gascoyne

Updated: Mar 21

Reach Resources exploration manager Steve Valance sampling large outcrop at the White Castles manganese project. Credit: File

Early boots on ground at Reach Resources’ White Castle manganese project in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region have been handsomely rewarded, stumping up high-grade manganese up to an eye-catching peak of 48 per cent.

The company collected 91 rock-chip samples from a selection of intriguing outcrops, highlighted from satellite imagery and historical exploration, during a helicopter-supported reconnaissance sampling program. Of the 91 samples, 11 samples returned assays greater than 15 per cent manganese, with a handful tipping the scales at more than 30 per cent manganese.

A full geochemical analysis of the samples is ongoing, but management notes preliminary analysis indicates a low level of impurities.

Reach has amassed an impressive foothold in the Gascoyne following its recent acquisition of an additional exploration licence from Firebird Metals that extended its tenure through a 70km stretch of the prospective Edmund Basin.

The Edmund Basin is dominated by sedimentary rocks of the Edmund and Collier groups, most notably by the Narimbunna Dolerite and sedimentary siliclastic rocks of the Ullawarra Formation, which regionally hosts supergene-stratiform, lateritic and detrital-style manganese mineralisation.

A clutch of manganese prospects was eked out by junior explorer Aurora Minerals (now Anax Metals) directly along strike of Reach’s tenure some 10 years ago. With the depressed steel market at the time – and the electric vehicle-driven demand for critical metals a mere twinkle in the collective global consciousness – only scant exploration has since been conducted in the area.

Interestingly, Reach’s patch houses at least 50km of continuous strike of the same prospective geological sequence. And the company’s extensive landholding shares the same neighbourhood as exploration heavyweights Fortescue Metals Group, Hastings Technology and Dreadnought Resources in a geological province that is heating up as one of the State’s newest critical metal hotspots.

These high-grade assay results are a great start to the assessment of our White Castles manganese project. We have deliberately targeted manganese as part of our battery metal strategy as we see the demand curve steepening in the coming years with the switch to alternative battery chemistries using manganese, over and above the baseload of demand from the steel industry. Reach Resources chief executive officer Jeremy Bower

Australia currently has only three operating manganese mines – Groote Eylandt and Bootu Creek in the Northern Territory and Woodie Woodie in Western Australia – and is the second biggest global producer behind South Africa.

While manganese is still primarily used in the steelmaking sector, demand for the critical metal is on the rise owing to its application in lithium-ion batteries for use in the electric vehicle market. It is estimated about 90kg of manganese is used per electric vehicle and it plays a fundamental role in the production of nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries.

Evolving battery technology is starting to lean heavily upon the metal’s properties, with research conducted by the White House in 2021 declaring that manganese use in battery cathodes may result in the metal emerging as a preferred element in next-generation battery cells due to its relative safety and improved stability.

The White Castle manganese project rounds out a clutch of critical metals projects Reach is developing in the Gascoyne. The company recently pulled the rods on a maiden drilling program at its Morrissey Hill lithium project where it intersected a stacked pegmatite swarm.

With the assays still at the lab, Reach is wasting no time in racking up a pipeline of prospective critical metal prospects ready to feel the bite of the drillbit.

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