Larry Reaugh, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Manganese Inc. passed along the news that the company has signed an agreement with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) "to continue the successful development of a hydrometallurgical process to extract and recover high purity manganese from lower grade domestic resources within North America," which they believe will be applicable to the Artillery Peak manganese deposits in western Arizona. The company announcement concludes that "The result will be a more robust, complete flow sheet with reduced operating costs to recover manganese from lower grade resources."
The Company is working with Kemetco Research Inc. of Richmond B.C. (“Kemetco”) to continue the development of a hydrometallurgical process which is intended to yield high purity manganese metal and/or manganese dioxide at low cost from North American known resources.
Larry included some interesting background on manganese that explains the growing interest in the Arizona deposits:
AZGS will be doing detailed mapping in the Artillery Mountains to better characterize the geology of the area and characterize the mineral deposits. This was a priority recommendation of the Survey's Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee for use of USGS StateMap cooperative funds. [right, schematic stratigraphic column of Artillery district manganese deposits, from Arizona Geology newsletter, v21, #3, Fall, 1991, by Jon Spencer]
China controls electrolytic manganese production (EMM) supplying and producing 97.44% of the world’s needs (3.1 billion pounds per year).
There is no substitute for manganese in steel (total manganese market greater than 30 billion pounds per year, fourth largest traded metal).
Manganese is the most critical metal at risk to supply and restriction in the United States as there is no US production. EMM’s greatest uses are the upgrading of specialty steel (47%), and the manufacture of aluminum alloys (32%) and electronics (14%).
China has a 20% export duty on EMM and the US has a 14% import duty; (US Price $1.80/lb) the current world price for Electrolytic Manganese Metal is about $1.53/lb. Manganese resources are declining in China especially carbonate ores for production of EMM, forcing Chinese companies to seek production offshore.
The overall manganese market grew at 8% per year to 30 billion pounds up to 2008. EMM market grew at 26% per year from 2003 – 2008 to 2.6 billion pounds per year.