The Battery Hub Project is located 150km to the south-south-west of Paraburdoo, 270km north-east of Gascoyne Junction and 565km to the north-north-east of Perth. The tenements are located 30km north-east of Mt Augustus, a well-known tourist destination which has an unsealed airstrip and year-round accommodation facilities. A maintained gravel road runs from Mount Augustus to the property.
No exploration had been undertaken at Battery Hub until 2010, when Aurora Minerals Ltd began an extensive mapping, sampling and drilling program. Aurora’s efforts resulted in numerous manganese prospects being identified over most of the 50km strike length on the tenements.
Figure 1: Manganese prospects identified.
Aurora surrendered the project in 2015 due to weakness in the manganese market. All drill sites were rehabilitated.
Geology and Mineralisation
There are three major forms of manganese mineralisation at Battery Hub:
- Stratiform deposits
- Quartz manganese breccias
- Laterite deposits
Stratiform mineralisation is the dominant exploration target at Battery Hub. Manganese mineralisation is associated with shale/siltstone units of the Ullawarra Formation of the Middle Proterozoic Edmund Group, hosted within the Bangemall Basin. The Ullawarra Formation is tightly folded and faulted, but generally the manganese horizons are relatively undeformed and shallowly dip northward.
Up to four main manganiferous horizons have been identified over the 50km strike length of the Ullawarra Formation. The highest concentration of manganese in outcrop occurs in the uppermost 10m of the third siltstone horizon, 1-5m below an overlying dolerite. Some of the siltstone crops out as interbedded shale and manganese, with the proportion of high-manganese beds grading up to 50%. Mineralisation is observed to be supergene enriched near‐surface. Previous studies on the project have proposed a hydrothermal source for mineralisation rather than a sedimentary source.
Figure 2: Five fingers prospect showing multiple manganiferous beds.
The entire sediment package appears to exhibit a background manganese grade of 0-5% Mn.
Quartz-manganese breccias are either strike‐parallel or northeast trending cross-cutting veins. They tend to be associated with higher-grade stratiform mineralisation, suggesting that they have a syn-genetic association with the stratiform deposits.
Laterite deposits are considered preserved remnants of a much larger widespread laterite peneplain. The laterite consists of massive and pisolitic ironstone and ferruginous silica, with variable manganese content. Pure Minerals views these deposits to have the potential to be bulk-tonnage and easily beneficiated.
Throughout the project area, manganese mineralisation consists of a number of manganese oxides, principally pyrolusite and manganite, with a variable amount of iron oxides present.
Figure 3: Black manganese mineralisation outcropping on the surface.
Figure 4: Outcrop Geology of the Battery Hub Project (GSWA 1:250,000 mapping).
Once the tenement has been granted, Pure Minerals will fast-track approvals for a reverse circulation drilling program at the property with the objective of rapidly defining a maiden JORC resource.
Pure Minerals intends to leverage the large amount of historic drilling information it has in its possession and focus its efforts on specific areas that show the most economic potential. The company has reviewed the historic drilling database of more than 500 holes and is designing an efficient drill program at Battery Hub.
Figure 5: Rock chip results and previous drilling collar locations.
Pure Minerals has also identified prospective areas within the Battery Hub tenements that were ignored previously. The initial focus will be in the area east of Isles Bore. Once the second Battery Hub tenement (E52/3523-I) is granted, Pure Minerals will expand its focus to include the Five Fingers prospect.
The company also intends to initiate preliminary beneficiation testwork on mineralisation at Battery Hub, with a view to potentially producing electroytic manganese dioxide and/or electrolytic manganese metal. Demand for these high purity manganese products is growing strongly, driven primarily by their use in batteries used to power electric vehicles.
Pure Minerals intends to follow up initial exploration and metallurgical testwork with a scoping study to review the economic potential at Battery Hub.