Mr. Larry W. Reaugh, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Manganese Inc. (“American Manganese” or the “Company”), (TSX.V: AMY; Pink Sheets: AMYZF), is pleased to announce the Company has received the report “The Recovery of Manganese From Low Grade Resources: Bench Scale Test Program Completed” prepared by Kemetco Research Inc. (“Kemetco”) of Richmond, British Columbia. The report describes and summarizes the extensive bench-scale metallurgical tests of the unit operations — operations which when linked together form the basis of a complete innovative conceptual flow sheet complete with heat, mass and energy balances — designed to process lower-grade manganese (“Mn”) mineralization into high purity manganese metal.
Mr. Reaugh states: “I am very gratified with the results to date as it lays the ground work for the next stage of process development: proof of concept testing on a continuous basis of our innovative extraction technology. Furthermore, I would like to say that American Manganese is very grateful for the financial support given by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.”
In May 2009, the Company commissioned Kemetco to develop a robust energy efficient hydrometallurgical process which would yield high purity manganese metal and/or manganese dioxide while minimizing potential environmental impacts. The work integrates and builds upon the extensive research carried out most notably by the United States Bureau of Mines intermittently from the 1940’s through the 1980’s and proprietary third party research conducted by other mining companies.
The report confirms that American Manganese’s proprietary process can extract manganese at greater than 90% efficiency while minimizing water use and potential environmental impacts. The conceptual process flow sheet developed during this test program is based on a unique application of commercially available process equipment so that the process is deemed to be robust and energy efficient. In addition to the production of electrolytic manganese metal, a saleable anhydrous sulphate by-product will also be produced.
Treatment of typical manganese samples containing between 4% and 7% Mn by weight (primarily in the form of pyrolusite, psilomelane and wad), is carried out in a hydrometallurgical process whereby four-valent Mn is reduced and leached by sulphur dioxide (SO2) dissolved in water. The hydrometallurgical processing of friable lower-grade material avoids intensive crushing and grinding, as well as the undesirable high temperature reduction roasting that is conventionally used in processing hard high-grade material. Roasting at temperatures typically between 800°C and 1000°C is energy intensive and would not be economical for lower-grade material.
Leaching studies performed on typical manganese samples of large particle size (greater than 9.5 mm) with dilute SO2 in stirred tanks indicates that the material is readily leachable. The material is friable and large particles break down easily during stirred tank leaching. SO2 leachant is produced on-site by burning elemental sulphur with 20% excess air. At a feed processing rate of 3500 tonnes/day, heat exchanging the exhaust gases from the sulphur burner will produce an estimated 20 tonnes per hour of steam at 400oC and 45 bar pressure. In a condensing turbine, this steam can produce 5 MW of continuous electrical power.
The pregnant leach solution (PLS) is purified in 2 stages prior to separating the manganese by precipitation. Dissolving the precipitate with recycled electrolyte produces a Mn-containing solution that is conducive to producing high-grade Mn metal by electro-winning.
Solid tailings with minimum water content are produced by filtration of the final counter current decantation underflow material, minimizing water requirements for the overall process. The solid tailings produced from test work were shown to be benign by the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure, and can be returned to mined-out areas of an open pit facilitating immediate progressive reclamation of disturbed areas.
Based on the successful test work, conceptual flow sheets have been developed which include applications of novel, proprietary, innovative technology to minimize process operating costs through low water use, low overall energy use and economic destruction of unwanted by-products. Accordingly, American Manganese Inc. has requested Kemetco to file an application for patent protection.
China controls electrolytic manganese production (EMM) supplying and producing 97.44% of the world’s needs (2.6 billion pounds per year).
There is no substitution for manganese in steel (total manganese market greater than 30 billion pounds per year, fourth largest traded metal).
Manganese is the most critical metal at risk to supply and restriction in the United States as there is no US production. EMM’s greatest uses are the upgrading of specialty steel (47%), and the manufacture of aluminum alloys (32%) and electronics (14%).
China has a 20% export duty on EMM and the US has a 14% import duty, world price is $1.22/lb. and US price is $1.55/lb.
Manganese resources are declining in China.
The overall manganese market grew at 8% per year to 30 billion pounds up to 2008. EMM market grew at 26% per year from 2003 – 2008 to 2.6 billion pounds per year.
About Kemetco Research Inc.
Kemetco Research Inc. is a privately owned contract research and development company specializing in extractive metallurgy, chemical processing and specialty chemical analysis. Kemetco was formed after the acquisition of the industrial process division of B.C. Research. B.C. Research had been in operation for over 60 years as a research and development contractor in British Columbia, Canada.
About American Manganese Inc.
American Manganese Inc. is a diversified specialty and critical metal Company focusing on potentially becoming the lowest cost producer of electrolytic manganese from its Arizona Manganese Project.
This release has been reviewed by John W. Fisher, PEng, a qualified person pursuant to National Instrument 43-101.
On behalf of Management
AMERICAN MANGANESE INC.
Larry W. Reaugh
President and Chief Executive Officer