Marula Mining (AQSE: MARU) an African-focused mining investment company, is pleased to update the market and shareholders on the activities of the Company for the three-month period ended 30 June 2023 (the “Quarter”).
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE QUARTER
- Operational Performance at the Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine
The Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine (“Blesberg”) is located approx. 94km north of the town of Springbok in the Namaqualand District of the Northern Cape and includes the Noumas I and Noumas II pegmatite bodies. Operations on site during the Quarter were focused of mine site infrastructure development; the sampling, processing and recovery of high-grade spodumene from the historic stockpile, and exploration focused on the hard rock potential across the prospecting right.
Material from the historical stockpile was hauled daily throughout the Quarter for processing through the mobile crushing and screening equipment and stockpiled according to the size fractions for final beneficiation and sorting.
@MarulaPlc CEO @JB_MiningAfrica talks to @ZaksTradersCafe about the progress at the Blesberg Lithium mine and other key corporate updates over the recent weeks #Mining #Batterymetals #Lithium #MARU https://t.co/1vZr3AIOCO via @share_talk https://t.co/gPT3LVxilw pic.twitter.com/3rDgdbpzfi
— Share_Talk ™ (@Share_Talk) September 28, 2023
During the Quarter, 14,924.90 tonnes (“t”) of material was loaded and hauled from the historic stockpiles. This was a 129.61% increase on the 6,500t of material movements in Q1 2023.
7,366t of the 14,924.90t material moved was processed through the crushing and screening circuit during the Quarter compared to 6,500t in Q1 2023 and 8,500t of material was used for both road construction and in drill pad preparation and access roads for the diamond drilling program that has since commenced in Q3 2023.
At Quarter end, total material in product stockpiles increased by 145.19% to 16,011t and comprised:
|Material Sizing||Tonnes as at Q2 2023||Tonnes as at Q1 2023||% Increase|
|10mm to 55mm||2,288t||2,700t||-15.26%|
- Significant Investment in New Mobile Mining Equipment at the Blesberg Lithium Mine
Early in the Quarter, on 6 April 2023, the Company announced that it had secured new mobile mining equipment for the Blesberg Lithium Mine for ZAR20 million (approx US$1.2M) through Q Global Commodities (Q Global”) existing relationship with one of its principal equipment suppliers, Bell Equipment Limited.
The new mining equipment comprised a Kobelco SK380XDLC excavator, a JCB 3CX backhoe loader, two new JCB 456ZX wheel loaders, and two new Bell B25E dump trucks.
The arrival of this new equipment during the Quarter provided the Company with the opportunity to more than double the capacity to mine and accelerate the reprocessing of the historic stockpile material and at the same time complete the construction of a number of major haul and access roads.
This new equipment is part of the Company’s plan to reprocess the historic stockpiles over a minimum 24-month period and for monthly sales of up to 1,500t of a +20mm high-grade lithium spodumene product.
The arrival of the new equipment also enabled the Company to begin activities on the identified pegmatites, including preparing for an initial resource drilling program, with drill pad preparation and drill access road construction commenced during the Quarter.
- Copper Mineralised Corridor Observed at the Kinusi Copper Mine
The Kinusi Copper Mine (“Kinusi”) is located near the village of Kinusi in Mpwapwa District in the Dodoma Region of central Tanzania and comprises 10 primary mining licences where the Company is working with its local partner Takela Mining Tanzania Limited (“Takela”) on exploration, mine development and the establishment of new copper processing operations.
During the Quarter, the Company’s independent geological consultants, Geofields Tanzania Limited (“Geofields”) completed the Phase 1 Program of exploration activities, which it commenced in Q1 2023 and from the detailed geological mapping and sampling work completed over all of the 10 granted mining licenses, they confirmed the presence of a copper mineralised corridor extending for over 1 kilometre (“km”) in strike length and 300 metres (“m”) wide and with high-grade narrow veins visually estimated to contain approx. 20% to 30% mineralised copper-bearing minerals which are mainly malachite and azurite.
Samples were collected and prepared by Geofields as part of the Phase 1 Program and were sent for laboratory analyses at SGS testing facilities in Tanzania. Assay results from these samples remain outstanding and are due to be received in the current quarter and an update will be provided in due course.
- Kinusi Copper Mine Process Plant Design and Offtake Discussions
During the Quarter, the Company confirmed its plans to install a copper processing plant at Kinusi, in line with the Company’s strategy to advance the Kinusi Copper Mine to production.
As part of this planned production, Takela commenced initial small-scale mining focusing on the Takela 1, 2, 3, 4 and 12 pits, with the mined material to be stockpiled ahead of commissioning of the proposed copper processing plant in Q4 2023.
Detailed design work, capital costs, operating costs and working capital requirements for copper processing plant was undertaken in South Africa during the Quarter, for its planned installation and commissioning and operation. Further work was completed on site at KInusi, with the identification of land areas for the establishment of mine offices and associated mine and operations support infrastructure.
In parallel with this work, the Company commenced negotiations with several parties for an initial copper offtake agreement for the sale and purchase of all copper and precious metals product produced from Kinusi.
OTHER OPERATIONS HIGHLIGHTS OF THE QUARTER
- Two Major Graphite Prospects Observed at the Bagamoyo Graphite Project in Tanzania
The Bagamoyo Graphite Project (“Bagamoyo”) comprises 22 primary mining licenses located in the Bagamoyo District in the Pwanai Region of Tanzania and where the Company is working with its local partner Kusini Gateaway Industrial Park Limited (“KGIP”) on exploration, mine development and the establishment of a new graphite mining and processing operations.
Early in the Quarter, the Company announced the preliminary results from the Phase 1 exploration activities at Bagamoyo which were completed by its independent geological consultants Geofields. This work included sampling, mapping and trenching across 18 of the 22 granted mining licenses, with samples collected and sent for analyses at SGS Laboratories in Tanzania.
The preliminary results confirmed two major graphite trends at the Mihuga and Saadan South Graphite Prospects at Bagamoyo, which extend for over 2km and where there are several outcrops of graphitic schist and graphitic gneiss that occur with large graphite flake sizes visibly observed.
At the Mihuga graphite prospect surface mapping identified an E-W trending mineralised envelop which extends up to approx. 500 metres in strike length on surface and is interpreted to extend a further two kilometres over six of the granted mining licenses. High-grade graphitic schist within the Mihuga Graphite Prospect was estimated to have graphite grades of between 35% to 75% based on visible observations. At the Saadan South Prospect, which is located immediately south of an active graphite mining operation in an area considered by Geofields to be “a new and emerging graphite exploration environment capable of hosting significant primary graphite mineralisation”, graphite outcrops were identified to have a NNE trending graphite zone of approx. 150m by 50m wide exposed from trenching and interpreted to extend for a further 750m across four of the granted mining licenses. High-grade graphitic schist within the Saadan South graphite prospect was estimated across three to five metre widths to have graphite grades of between 35% to 65% based on visible observations.
Samples from both the Mihuga and Saadan South graphite prospects were collected for graphite and graphite-carbon analyses with the assay results received subsequent to the Quarter’s end.
- High-Grade Graphite Mineralisation Observed at Nyorinyori Graphite Project
The Nyorinyori Graphite Project (“Nyorinyori”) comprises 10 granted graphite licences located in the Simanjiro District, in the Manyara Region of Tanzania and where the Company is working with Takela to advance the project through to mine development the establishment of graphite processing operations.
During the Quarter, the Company announced that high-grade graphite mineralisation had been observed at Nyorinyori, with visual estimates of +90% graphite content and identified jumbo graphite flakes throughout in shallow and broad graphite veins exposed at depths of approximately 2m from limited and small-scale mining activities. In addition to this high-grade graphite mineralisation, additional associated graphite mineralisation was observed across the mining license area at surface from numerous outcrops, extending over an initial strike length of over two kilometres and which remained open.
The Company also announced that negotiations had commenced during the Quarter to potentially increase the scope of the Nyorinyori project with the addition of up to an additional 25 granted mining licenses.
- Appointment of Zimbabwe Country Manager and Advance of Project Due Diligence Reviews
William Thompson was appointed as the Company’s Zimbabwe Country Manager of its Zimbabwe subsidiary, Muchai Mining (Pvt) Limited during the Quarter.
During this period Mr Thompson led the Company’s senior executive management team with visits to assess several producing and advanced projects in the country with evaluation work and due diligence review work ongoing throughout the Quarter on potential acquisition targets and joint venture opportunities including multiple active mining and exploration sites where lithium ores are actively being mined and stockpiled.
CORPORATE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE QUARTER
- Formal Agreements Signed for Tanzanian Copper and Graphite Projects
The Company announced that during the Quarter, it had entered into commercial agreements with Takela on both Kinusi and Nyorinyori Projects, and with KGIP on the Bagamoyo Project.
These formal agreements replace the binding heads of agreements with Takela that were announced on 4 October 2022 and 20 February 2023 and set out the terms and obligations of Marula’s investment in each of these projects.
- Establishment of a Wholly Owned Subsidiary in Kenya
Marula continued to expand its footprint in East Africa during the Quarter with the incorporation of Muchai Mining (Pvt) Limited (“Muchai Mining Kenya”), a wholly owned operating subsidiary company based in Kenya.
The decision to establish Muchai Mining Kenya followed extensive due diligence review work on several copper and graphite opportunities in Kenya and a much improving environment in the country’s mining sector and ability to secure and advance attractive projects through to development.
- Key Management Appointments
A number of key management appointments were made during the Quarter at both the corporate level at its headquarters in Nairobi and across its operational bases in East and Southern Africa.
These appointments included:
- Tokkas Van Heerden, as Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) in a non-board position and responsible for the development and operation of its mining operations throughout Africa.
- Mr Henk van Zyl and Mr Edward Ruheni as General Manager Operations Southern Africa and General Manager Operations East Africa respectively.
- Ms Melissa Ndele as the Group’s Financial Controller, Ms Shiko Muchai as Joint Company Secretary, Ms Faith Kinyanjui as Investor Relations Manager and Ms Eunice Wairima as the Social Corporate Responsibility and ESG Manager, all based at the Company’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
- Proposed JSE Listing
The Company announced on 29 June 2023 the appointment of South African corporate advisory group Bridge Capital Advisors Pty Limited (“Bridge Capital”) as its advisor to manage and oversee a proposed listing of its ordinary shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (“JSE”).The decision to apply for a dual listing on the JSE, in addition to the dual listing on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (“NSE”), was driven by the Company’s strategy to establish itself as one of the leading battery metals focused African mining, exploration and development companies and the significance of the proposed equity investment by Q Global.
The proposed dual listings on both the JSE and NSE are expected to follow soon after the Company’s planned move of its primary listing to either the London Stock Exchange Standard List or AIM Market.
- Conversion of Convertible Loan Note and Discharge of Debenture
On 6 April 2023, the Company announced that Brahma Finance (BVI) Limited (“Brahma”) converted the entire principal amount of a £265,000 of convertible loan notes (“CLN”), into new ordinary shares in the Company. A total of 13,250,000 new ordinary shares in the Company were issued to Brahma.
As a result of the conversion of the CLN, the debenture held by Brahma over Marula’s assets was discharged, and the Company was able to confirm that it was debt free at the time.
- Exercise of Warrants and Issue of Equity
A total of 7,435,000 warrants, with a strike price of 4 pence were exercised during the Quarter, which raised £297,400 of gross proceeds through the issue of 7,435,000 new ordinary shares.
In addition, a further 710,000 new ordinary shares at a price of 12 pence per new ordinary share were issued to Takela, its nominees and consultants in respect of consideration due as part of the transaction on the Kinusi Project and in respect to services provided to the Company.
Jason Brewer, Marula Mining PLC CEO said:
“It has been another impressive quarter for the Company. Marula has made significant strides in advancing its operations, resulting in a number of key milestones achieved during the period at both the Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine, the Kinusi Copper Mine and at the Nyorinyori and Bagamoyo Graphite Projects.
“These milestones were achieved through both the support and involvement of Q Global Commodities at the Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine, where we saw great operational performance during the Quarter, made possible by the new mobile mining equipment which we secured through the Q Global partnership and arrived quickly on site.
“At the Kinusi Copper Mine and the Nyorinyori and Bagamoyo Graphite Projects, all credit to our management team which was strengthened during the Quarter and to our partners Takela, KGIP and our independent geological consultants Geofields, for the progress.
“At the corporate level, there was progress on the primary listing in London, the planned dual listings in South Africa and Kenya, and the strengthening of the balance sheet with the conversion of the Brahma Convertible Note and a number of warrant exercises during the Quarter as our share price reached a record level.
“Through close collaboration with our various partners, Marula has undergone growth in this period. I extend my gratitude to all our shareholders and the dedicated Marula management team for their continued support and I look forward to providing ongoing updates on all our activities as they unfold.”
About Marula Mining
Marula Mining (AQSE: MARU) is an African focused battery metals investment and exploration company and has interests in several high value mine projects in Africa; Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine in South Africa, Nkombwa Hill Project in Zambia and Kinusi Copper Mine, Bagamoyo Graphite Project and Nyorinyori Graphite Project in Tanzania. As we advance operations at these battery metals focused projects, Marula will continue to build and expand its interests in other high-quality projects in Africa.
Marula’s strategy is to identify and invest in advanced and high-value mining projects throughout East, Central and Southern Africa that the Directors believe would deliver returns for its shareholders. The Board and management team aims to establish Marula as a socially and environmentally responsible, sustainable, and profitable producer of critical metals and commodities that are of increasingly strategic importance to modern technologies and the global economy.
Marula’s shares are traded on the AQUIS Stock Exchange (AQSE), Marula is exploring opportunities to admit its shares to trading on the London Stock Exchange plc’s Standard List or AIM Market, Kenya’s Nairobi Securities Exchange and South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
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