Niafarang Mineral Sands Project
Republic of Senegal
The Niafarang project is designed to access a high grade coastal mineral sands deposit using simple dredge mining and concentrating methodologies. The ore is high grade, coarse grained sands producing high quality ilmenite and zircon. The Niafarang project is located within an exploration licence zone covering an area of 397km2 along a 75km stretch of the Casamance coast of Senegal, West Africa.
Environmental and Mining licences were awarded in 2017. A small mining licence (SML) was initially awarded to Astron and transferred to its Senegalese based subsidiary. Extensive community and stakeholder engagement has occurred while community development initiatives are in place.
An area approximately 6km along the coast has been subject to exploration and it will be this area that constitutes the first stage of the proposed project. Based on a 2017 Mineral Resource estimate, the planned Stage 1 mining operations will access 4.8mt of ore bearing sand, with an average heavy mineral (HM) grade of 12.5%, with the following assemblage characteristics: ilmenite 75%; zircon 13.7%, rutile 2.3%.
Stage 1 entails an estimated mining period of 5 years, allowing parallel evaluation of the broader deposit for subsequent potential mining. Heavy mineral concentrate will be produced for processing into final products of zircon, rutile and ilmenite in China. Production from Stage 1 is estimated at ~15ktpa of zircon and ~80ktpa of ilmenite.
Astron has acquired all of the necessary mining equipment for Stage 1 of the project. This equipment is held in storage in Dakar. Final arrangements are being progressed for the temporary resettlement of a small expatriate population, to allow the commencement of mining activities.
Subject to completion of outstanding negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Senegal, production is able to commence quickly, with a minimal capital expenditure requirement.