The Bryah Basin project is located approximately 100-150km north of the town of Meekatharra in Western Australia. The Company’s tenements and manganese mineral rights cover 880km² over parts of the western Bryah Basin. Active and historic mines located close to the Company’s tenements include the Fortnum, Labouchere, Horseshoe, Peak Hill, Hermes and Harmony gold mines and the Horseshoe Lights copper/gold mine.
The Bryah Basin also hosts a number of historical Manganese mines, the largest being the Horseshoe South Manganese mine.
Gold and Copper Exploration
Historical exploration during the 1980s and 1990s primarily focused on gold targets that could be mined by shallow open pit methods. Deeper exploration was generally limited to the immediate vicinity of the then operating mines. Exploration and mining activity in the Bryah Basin declined substantially during the late 1990s and 2000s.
With the discovery of the DeGrussa copper/gold deposit by Sandfire Resources NL (Sandfire) in 2009, a renewed phase of exploration across the Bryah Basin commenced, targeting deeper volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) style mineralisation.
In June 2015 Sandfire discovered the high-grade Monty copper/gold VMS deposit. Details of Sandfire’s exploration results are available online from ASX.
In 2014, deeper drilling by RNI NL (now Auris Minerals Limited ASX:AUR) to test beneath the Forrest gold prospect in the western Bryah Basin identified significant copper/gold mineralisation at depth.
The Horseshoe Range area has been the main manganese producing region within the Bryah and Padbury Basins, with production dominated by the Horseshoe South Mine, and a smaller satellite deposit at the Horseshoe North Mine. The first production period for these 2 deposits was from 1948 to 1971, when 490,000 tonnes of manganese ore was mined at a reported average grade of 42% Manganese. Process Minerals Limited, a subsidiary of ASX-listed Mineral Resources Limited, produced a further 400,000 tonnes of manganese ore from the Horseshoe South Mine between 2008 and 2011.
Other historical manganese mines within the area are at Mudderwearie, Elsa Mary and Mount Padbury with each reported to have yielded grades exceeding 40% Mn.
Since 2000 only limited manganese exploration has occurred. However, drilling in 2010-2011 identified a number of new manganese deposits under shallow cover. One such discovery, the Horseshoe Flats deposit is located less than 1 km south of the Horseshoe South mine. Manganese mining operations commenced at the Horseshoe Flats in late 2017 with ore being trucked to Port Hedland for export. The deposit has been described as a talus-style deposit which lies near the foot of the Horseshoe Range under shallow transported cover. Exploration for talus-style manganese deposits under shallow cover represents an opportunity for Bryah Resources Limited, which has control of over 60 kilometres of the prospective Horseshoe Range.
Manganese Joint Venture
In April 2019 Bryah Resources Limited announced the execution of a manganese Farm-In and Joint Venture Agreement (Agreement) with OM (Manganese) Limited (OMM), a wholly owned subsidiary of ASX-listed OM Holdings Limited (ASX:OMH).
OM Holdings Limited is a vertically integrated Manganese and Silicon specialist involved in mining, smelting and trading, with operations located in Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa. In Australia, OMM operates the Bootu Creek manganese mine in the Northern Territory which is due to cease open pit mining operations in 2021.
The Agreement applies to approximately 660km2 of the Company’s Bryah Basin Project in central Western Australia, including the historic Horseshoe South Manganese Mine.
Under the Agreement, the Company received from OMM a Signing Fee payment of $250,000, which the Company will use for its own working capital purposes. OMM is providing $500,000 to fund manganese exploration activities managed by Bryah up to 30 June 2019.
A second $250,000 payment to Bryah will be made by OMM in July 2019 should OMM wish to proceed with further exploration. OMM will then progressively provide $2 million to fund the next stage of manganese exploration managed by Bryah for OMM to earn a 51% Joint Venture Interest.
Bryah may elect for OMM to fund the next $1.8 million of project expenditure for OMM to earn a 60% Joint Venture Interest. Thereafter Bryah may elect for OMM to fund an additional $2.5 million of project expenditure for OMM to earn a 70% Joint Venture Interest.
The aim of the JV is to explore for commercially mineable manganese and carry out Feasibility Studies. If a positive Feasibility Study is supported by a Decision to Mine, then OMM and Bryah may elect to participate in a Mining Joint Venture in proportion to their JV interests or convert to a Royalty. Bryah is to negotiate a Sales Agency Agreement on commercial terms with OM Holdings Ltd in respect to all manganese ore production under the Mining JV.
The JV includes an area of Mutual Interest which extends for a radius of 100 kilometres from the Horseshoe South Manganese Mine (M52/806).