Larry W. Reaugh, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Manganese Inc., (TSX.V: AMY; OTCQB: AMYZF; FSE: 2AM) (“American Manganese” or the “Company”) is pleased to report successful operation of its pilot plant for the extraction and separation of manganese from its Artillery Peak resource situated at Mojave County, Arizona.
Operation of the pilot plant (see 360° Rotoshoot) commenced on August 18, 2011 under the direction of Dr. Gie Tan, Director of Hydrometallurgy at Kemetco Research Inc. Operational assistance of the solid/liquid separation section of the pilot plant was provided by Pocock Industrial Inc. (a specialist in solid/liquid separation).
The pilot plant was initially operated in semi-continuous mode to test several different operating conditions such as particle size in the leach stage, flocculent type and dose, and general operating conditions of the thickener and counter current decantation (CCD) circuit for solid/liquid separation. The pilot plant was then operated in continuous mode over 72 hours to test the performance of the leach and solid/liquid separation in steady state conditions.
Initial results of the leach and solid/liquid separation pilot tests are excellent; for instance rates of extraction of 92.7% manganese recovered was achieved from coarse feed material (minus 6.35 mm) in 2 hours. Previous work done by the US Bureau of Mines (USBM) on the same resource material from Artillery Peak, found this separation to be challenging because of the clay content (montmorillonite) and lack of polyelectrolyte flocculent. Initial expectation of the pilot plant was to process 3 to 5 kg of resource material per hour. In the continuous pilot plant run, the average processing rate was 20.8 kg per hour, which greatly exceeded expectation. Success of the pilot plant operation has removed a significant amount of technical risk for the flow sheet.
When operating in continuous mode with fine feed material, the pilot plant demonstrated that effective solid/liquid separation can be achieved with a conventional thickener and CCD circuit. A clear pregnant leach solution was recovered from the thickener with minimal use of flocculent. Underflow densities of 40 to 55% w/w solid tailings were achieved which was better than expected. Wash ratios of the tailings were observed to be 3.5:1 v/v per stage. While representative samples have been shipped out to external laboratories for confirmatory assessments, this wash ratio would indicate that washed tailings with minimal soluble loss can be achieved with a reasonable number of CCD stages.
The pilot plant has generated reliable data for assessment by Wardrop Engineering Inc. in a NI 43-101 Preliminary Feasibility Study scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
This successful confirmation of leaching and solid/liquid separation is key to development of the entire process. Purification of the pregnant leach solution, production of manganese carbonate and conversion to sulphate for the final electrolyte production of manganese metal are known processes. These stages of testing are being completed in on-going work expected to be completed within the next 6 weeks.
China controls electrolytic manganese production (EMM) supplying and producing 98.44% of the world’s needs (3.0 billion pounds per year).
There is no substitute for manganese in steel (total manganese market greater than 31 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%).
Electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) for the battery industry is expected to be the fastest growing segment of the manganese market.
China has a 20% export duty on EMM and the US has a 14% import duty; (US Price $1.81/lb) the current world price for Electrolytic Manganese Metal is about $1.54/lb. Manganese resources are declining in China especially carbonate ores for production of EMM, forcing Chinese companies to seek production offshore.
China is currently shutting down production of EMM in several provinces for environmental reasons.
China production of EMM predicted to fall 500 – 700,000 T’s out of 1.4 million T’s in next 3 – 5 years.
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. The Company is well financed to execute its contemplated work programs.
This release has been reviewed by John W. Fisher, P. Eng., a qualified person pursuant to National Instrument 43-101.
On behalf of Management
AMERICAN MANGANESE INC.
Larry W. Reaugh
President and Chief Executive Officer