Mr. Larry W. Reaugh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rocher Deboule Minerals Corp. (TSX.V: RD; OTC US: RDBHF) (“Rocher Deboule” or the “Company”) is pleased to report the Company’s progress on their Artillery Peak Manganese Project. On April 29, 2009 the Company completed a NI 43-101 Resource Study Estimate at a 0.91% Mn Cut-off.
The resource remains open in all directions and an aggressive drilling program will be carried out beginning early in 2010 to establish additional resources as well as move part of the existing resource into the measured and indicated category. The Artillery Peak Manganese Resource is considered to be the largest known low grade deposit in the Southwestern United States.
The Company also completed a NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment Study (August 6, 2009), as filed on www.sedar.com, which indicates the Artillery Peak Manganese Project could potentially become the world’s lowest cost producer of electrolytic manganese (“EMM”). Production and consumption of EMM is the fastest growing segment at 26% of the overall annual manganese production of 30 billion pounds growing at 8% per year. China supplies and produces 97.44% of the worlds EMM demand.
The Artillery Peak Manganese mineralization is in the form of pyrolucite (Pu) Psilomelane (Ps) and Wad (W) which is amenable to sulphurous acid leaching at coarse partical sizes which return >90% recoveries in short leaching intervals. Mineralization is friable and soft. It is broken down by simple hammer milling with no need for multiple crushing and grinding stages. This simplicity is the key to reduced capital and operating expenses. The coarse (minus 25mm) material as a slurry in stirred tanks is leached when sulfur dioxide gas is sparged through the pulp. Physical breakdown and solubilization of manganese is rapid – less than 30 hours for more than 90% extraction. Leached pulp is settled using flocculents: the pregnant solution containing manganese sulphate and dithionate is evaporated to make crystals which are calcined at (250°C) to eliminate dithionate and recycle the So2 gas to the leaching stage. The manganese sulphate is then purified to remove traces of base metals, calcium etc prior to becoming feed to the electrolysis stage. Some production of electrical power comes from use of the intense heat produced when sulphur is burned to produce So2. Waste heat can be used to facilitate crystallization and filtration of the leached pulp. Costs of electrowinning are estimated at $0.29 per pound with low mining and processing costs of $0.15 per pound. The initial testing of Artillery Peak mineral was carried out by the US Bureau of Mines for many years in conjunction with its work on many other low grade manganese occurrences in the United States. Artillery Peak’s mineralization was found to be the most amenable to the sulphurus acid leaching process.
Subject to attaining financing, the Company will continue process development through pilot plant work in 2010. The start of preliminary feasibility and base line studies for environmental permitting is set to begin early in the New year.
As the world becomes concerned with China’s control of Rare Earths (97%) and manganese production North American production of electrolytic manganese could not be more opportune. The main reasons are as follows:
- China controls the production of EMM (97.44%);
- There is no production of any manganese in the United States and EMM is also subject to a 14% import duty;
- The National Research Council of the National Academies places manganese followed by indium and niobium metal most critically at risk to supply and restriction considerations;
- Electrolytic Manganese’s greatest uses are in upgrading steel products (47%) the manufacture of aluminum (32%) and electronics (14%);
- Electrolytic Manganese may also be used to produce Ferro and Silica manganese.
“You can’t make steel without manganese and if you can’t make steel, the world stops” Quote by Brian Gilbertson, CEO of Pallinghurst Resources Ltd. and past CEO of BHP Billiton as quoted by Bloomberg September 17, 2009.
Manganese is obligatory in the production of iron and steel. As the demand rises the demand for manganese rises proportionally. Worldwide production of manganese alloys reached 11.8 million tonnes in 2006 (up 14% from 2005) and 13.3 million tonnes in 2007 (up 13.3% from 2006) with China producing 46% or 6.2 million tonnes. China is currently looking at measures to control production by increasing export taxes to 20%. Electrolytic Manganese prices are currently at US $1.20/lb. FOB Rotterdam and $1.52 FOB North America.
- Manganese is the fourth largest consumed metal (approximately 30.0 billion lbs/yr) after iron, aluminum and copper.
- Manganese has no substitute in the manufacture of steel. Most steel consumes 10-20 lbs of manganese per tonne.
- There is no production of manganese in North America where the US Steel companies import all manganese requirements from off-shore despite having huge deposits of iron ore domestically.
The various forms of manganese production are:
- Electrolytic Manganese (EMM) is the only pure form of production from which Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide (EMD) is also produced. EMD is used extensively in the production of batteries. Current price $1.20/lb.
- Ferro manganese is a combination of iron and manganese derived from a smelting process. Usually 80% manganese, 14 – 19% iron and the balance is carbon producing high, medium and low carbon alloys. Medium carbon is priced at $0.90/lb.
- Silicomanganese (SiO2) ferroalloy with high contents of manganese and silicon is produced by a thermal decomposition reaction in furnaces. Contains 65 – 68% Manganese, 16% silicon and 2% carbon. Current price $0.53/lb.
- Manganese ore usually greater than 44% consists of manganese carbonate or oxide gangue (concrete rock). Sold for upgrading to silica or ferro manganese and shipped in raw state. Current price $0.12/lb.
About Rocher Deboule Minerals Corp.
Rocher Deboule Minerals Corp. is a diversified exploration and development company focusing its attention on mineral properties and commodities used in the steel manufacturing industry.
This release has been reviewed by John W. Fisher, P.Eng, a qualified person pursuant to National Instrument 43-101.
On behalf of Management
ROCHER DEBOULE MINERALS CORP.
Larry W. Reaugh
President and Chief Executive Officer