Listed Perth-based uranium explorer Manhattan Corporation Ltd (ASX: MHC) which is moving into proposed offshore ironsands mining in the Taranaki Bight on the North Island has expressed confidence in the outcome of court appeals against the project by environmental groups.
Manhattan has agreed to merge with private New Zealand company Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) in what will be a reverse takeover of that company’s ironsands licences on the North Island and less-advanced offshore heavy mineral leases off the West Coast of the South Island.
Manhattan’s March quarter report said it was progressing the planned reverse takeover of TTR, which is set for shareholder approval from both parties – seen as a definite result given that key TTR shareholders are also significant shareholders in Manhattan.
TTR has a granted mining licence and EPA environmental approvals in place to develop large, shallow marine titano-magnetite deposits offshore in the South Taranaki Bight (STB).
The inferred and indicated ironsand resources has been established at 1,043 million tonnes grading 11.28% Fe2O3 using a 3.5% DTR cut-off grade. TTR has also delineated additional inferred and indicated mineral resources, in the adjacent STB area outside of the mining areas, of 2,137 Mt @ 9.66% Fe203 available for future mine development.
Manhattan said the New Zealand High Court hearing of the Appeals to the EPA’s grant of TTR’s marine and discharge consents in Wellington over four days from April 16 to 19.
The High Court’s judgment on the appeals will be delivered in the second quarter of 2018.
“The anticipated dismissal of the appeals will pave the way to finalise the bankable feasibility study to finance and develop the STB iron sands project,” Manhattan said.
TTR’s second project is the granted prospecting permit covering 4,436 km2, known as the Westland Sands project off the West Coast of the South Island.
This is prospective for seafloor deposits of heavy iron-rich mineral sands known to host ilmenite, zircon, rutile, garnet and gold.
Meanwhile, Manhattan said the company’s Ponton uranium project in the remote far south east of Western Australia was “in good standing and we are assessing the way forward with this project subject to market conditions.”
As well as the still relatively flat uranium price, the governing Western Australian Labor Government’s policies not to approve new uranium mines, or allow mineral exploration in A Class reserves.
This suggests, Manhattan said, that there is little likelihood of progressing the Ponton uranium project over the four year term of the present WA Labor Government.