By James Winson
Sovereign Metals Limited (ASX:SVM) is a junior exploration company based in Malawi. Malawi is a landlocked county located in South East Africa, adjacent to Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi needs to find a way to diversify its economy and reduce the issues associated with one dominated by farming (80% in Malawi’s case), enter Sovereign Metals LTD.
Sovereign Metals are an Australian based junior exploration company working in Malawi. The company has been operating there since 2012, with a project area encompassing 3,713km 2 in Central Malawi, surrounding the Capital, Lilongwe. Their position here provides relatively good infrastructure for an underdeveloped country like Malawi, such as a series of sealed roads around the capital, as well as a large workforce close by in Lilongwe.
More interestingly is the project areas proximity to the recently refurbished rail line, the Nacala logistics corridor (Fig. 1). Running for 912km the railway provides the quickest route from Lilongwe to the Nacala deep water port in Mozambique. The rail line (conveniently or thanks to good foresight by Sovereign) runs within 25km of the project area, giving Sovereign Metals access to the global commodities markets, as well as reducing upfront capital cost for project development.
Sovereign is currently targeting two different resources within Malawi, these being Rutile (TiO2) and Graphite. Within the first few years of Sovereign’s work in Malawi focus was put on Graphite resource estimation and exploration, but since 2018 a higher focus has been put on resource estimation of Rutile with some company reports since then having no mention of Graphite at all.
Sovereigns two main Rutile prospects in Malawi are hosted within both Saprolite and Sand. Saprolite is a very soft clay formed through deep profile tropical based weathering of high temperature, high pressure metamorphic material. The sand hosted Ruitle mineralisation occurs as a classic fluvial placer deposit. Both of these deposit types allow for easy mining of soft material from the surface.
One deposit of Rutile that has been recognised by Sovereign as a potential ‘company making asset’ is the Kasiya deposit to the West of the project area (Fig. 2). The Kasiya deposit encompasses an area of 6.5km strike length and a width of 3km, which was recently extended in the last quarter of operations. Currently the Kasiya deposit is open along strike and towards the South East, with a large number of drill data sets showing the deposit to be also open at depth, to an interpreted 25m to the base of the Saprolite the Rutile is hosted within. Drill reports are also showing high percentage Rutile rates, with average percentages sticking above 1% to highs of 2%. Metallurgic test studies of a 1 tonne representative sample have shown high titanium dioxide levels comparable to leading global producers such as Iluka Resources Limited. Sovereign has a Maiden Mineral Resource Estimation on track for Kasiya during Q3 of 2020.
Sovereign’s newest discovery of Rutile within the Malawi project is the Bua channel exploration license area (Fig.3). This area was acquired in January this year and represents a potential 42km of mineralised sand downstream, with the placer sand deposits already being geologically well defined. 8km of the Bua channel has already seen some drill results showing Rutile percentages at just under 1%, with the extent of mineralization running North with widths ranging from 300m to 700m. Sovereign has further plans to drill the Bua channel area in late Q3, pending any further Covid related restrictions!
Overall Sovereign Metals have only just scratched the surface of their massive exploration area and have already found two potentially significant Rutile provinces, with many more targets remaining untested across the package (Fig. 4). The question remains whether drilling will indicate further mineralisation North of the already tested portion of the Bua Channel land area to see if this new license area will be Sovereign’s big break.
Currently Rutile global supplies are in decline with decreasing ore grades being mined globally. With a new age of space travel being led by Spacex could we see an increase in demand for titanium. With Elon Musk hoping for space travel to be as readily available as air travel in the not too distant future, the potential for further investment into Rutile mining and titanium could put Sovereign Metals in an advantageous position if drilling locates further prospects and increases the size of Kasiya and the Bua Channel.
All information has come from Sovereign Metals’ website and their technical reports.