African Battery Metals plc, the AIM listed African focused exploration company developing projects in strategic battery metals, is pleased to provide an update on its exploration activities in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, (the “DRC”).
ABM CEO, Roger Murphy, said,
“I am very excited by the opportunity we have acquired in Cameroon. We know from Geovic’s past exploration work at Nkamouna, that this area hosts one of the world’s largest non-DRC cobalt resources2, and that we are in ‘elephant country’ for cobalt and nickel. We believe we understand why the mineralisation is where it is in the licences historically held by Geovic and, as the charts in this release show, we have similar areas within ABM’s Cameroon Licences. I look forward to implementing an exploration programme, which I believe should confirm the presence of cobalt and nickel on ABM’s Cameroon Licences.
At the same time, I’m disappointed that our work so far on Kisinka in the DRC has not yet provided significant evidence of cobalt or copper mineralisation. However, Kisinka is a large licence area in the right area on mapped Roan geology, with large copper-cobalt mines nearby. Our work to date has only covered a small fraction of the licence so we therefore cannot rule anything out yet. We will assess our next steps on Kisinka relative to those for our licences in Ivory Coast and Cameroon.”
ABM has studied the geological work undertaken by Geovic, and NI 43-101 Technical Report commissioned by Geovic, to locate economically viable cobalt-nickel mineralisation in the region, and used it to identify targets on ABM’s Cameroon Licences. ABM used two strands of evidence, viz:
As figures 2 & 3 below illustrate, the ABM Cameroon Licences have several areas where topographic highs overlie areas of elevated aeromagnetic intensity. It is these areas where ABM’s anticipated next stage of exploration will focus. Given that mineralisation at Nkamouna is found from around 5m to 22m in depth, ABM will need to devise an exploration approach which involves either deep pitting or use of a man-portable auger. ABM looks forward to updating the market as it designs an exploration programme for these licences.
A team of Sahara geologists visited ABM’s Cameroon licences during July 2018. The primary purpose of the visit was to assess the work necessary for a systematic exploration programme focused on the targets identified by the topographic and aeromagnetic data, but whilst on the licences, a series of shallow soil samples were collected on transects across each licence. Expectations from this shallow sampling were limited as all the cobalt and nickel mineralisation at the licences historically held by Geovic were found at depths of greater than 5m. In order to penetrate down to the anticipated depth of mineralisation, either hand-dug pits of over 5m depth will need to be excavated across the licences or a man-portable mechanical auger will need to be utilised.
Geovic was listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2006 to follow up on nickel-cobalt mineralisation reported by a United Nations Exploration Programme in Cameroon in the 1980s. Geovic, through its 60.5% owned subsidiary Geovic Cameroon, conducted an extensive exploration programme over several years over its licence area, see figure 1. This work identified seven plateaus in the region where cobalt and nickel mineralisation was recorded. These plateaus, named Nkamouna, Mada, Rapodjombo, North Mang, South Mang, Messia and Kondong are illustrated in figure 2.
The cobalt and nickel mineralisation was found at between 5m – 20m depth in the deeply weathering profile or laterite that overlay areas with underlying ultramafic intrusions. The ultramafics acted as the source of the metals and the laterite concentrated them to economic levels. Laterites are frequently sources of cobalt and nickel mineralisation in equatorial regions of the world, including SE Asia, Australia and Latin America as well as Africa. Over time, this laterite profile has been eroded away by the rivers with transect the area and is only preserved in a series of plateaus between the rivers.
Although every plateau was explored and cobalt-nickel mineralisation was reported, given the very large scale of the licence area and its inaccessibility, Geovic concentrated exploration work on Nkamouna and Mada. The final NI 43-101 compliant Mineral Resource declared by Geovic totalled 323.2 million tonnes at 0.21% Cobalt, 0.63% Nickel and 1.36% Manganese, see Table 1 below. A full NI 43-101 compliant Technical Report was completed by SRK in June 20113 with an Ore Reserve of 54.7million tonnes grading 0.25% Cobalt, 0.69% Nickel and 1.33% Manganese.
Table 1 Geovic 43-101 Resource dated 02 June 2011
Source: NI 43-101 Technical Report, Geovic Mining Corp by SRK Consulting, 02 June 2011
Geovic explored several means to raise the significant finance necessary to fund construction of a mine at Nkamouna, including a partial sale to a Chinese Company looking to offtake production from the project. But cobalt fell from a peak of $50/lb ($110,000/t) in 2008 to trade between $10/lb - $15/lb ($22,000/t to $33,000/t) from mid 2012 to end 2015. At these low prices Geovic failed to raise finance and the Company was subsequently delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange in June 2014.
Figure 2 Aeromagnetic data across ABM’s licences which shows same aeromagnetic signature as Geovic’s Messea Cobalt Nickel prospect (Click to zoom in)
Figure 3, regional topography which show topographic highs coincident with aeromagnetic highs at Ngoila Nord, Ekok & Ntam Est (Click to zoom in)
After significant delays due to a variety of factors including changes to the Mining Code in the DRC, and administrative delays, also in part due to those changes, assays on the samples submitted following ABM’s auger programme of two transects across the Kisinka licence in DRC have now been returned. The results are disappointing, with cobalt grades of 0.002% to 0.021% and copper of up to 0.058%. These are disappointing given that the licence is on the Roan rocks, which host most of DRC’s cobalt, and also given the licence is within 30km of seven producing cobalt and copper mines. As previously noted, however, the licence is over 50sq.km. and in excess of seven kilometres long. Additionally the licence is covered with up to 30 metres of soil cover, which is why augering was attempted. These results do not invalidate Kisinka as an exploration target. Further work on the licence will be assessed in the context of the opportunities ABM management sees in its projects in Ivory Coast (see release of 16th October 2018) and in Cameroon.
1 Geovic Mining Corporation released a Feasibility Study on its Nkamouna Co-Ni-Mn project in 2011, via www.sedar.com. The total Measured, Indicated & Inferred Resource totalled 323.15 million tonnes at 0.21% cobalt, 0.61% nickel and 1.26% manganese – see Table 1 for more detail
2 Core Consultants described Celsius Resources Ltd.’s Opowu Resource in Namibia as the largest outside the DRC. Nkamouna’s historic resource is significantly larger than Opowu’s. Source: https://www.coreconsultantsgroup.com/largest-cobalt-copper-resource-outside-drc/
14 November 2018