Perth, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 18 June 2008 – Bonaparte Diamond Mines NL – an Australian-based and listed company that conducts marine exploration in southern Africa and Australia – is to commence sampling operations over the phosphatic seabed sediments in its 1 000 squ km Meob project area off the Namibian coast.
Revealing this in a letter to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company said it had identified its preferred contractor to undertake a systematic sampling programme. It added that the contract was being finalised and was expected to be signed this week for commencement of sampling operations before the end of July 2008.
A combined grab and core sampling programme has been designed for better definition of the phosphate grade distribution to allow resource estimation, and to provide bulk samples for metallurgical and beneficiation testing, the letter continued. A scoping study and initial JORC-compliant mineral resource estimate are expected in Q4 of 2008.
The phosphate deposits off Namibia were delineated during regional studies in the 1970’s but have remained undeveloped to date. The deposits occur as unconsolidated sea floor sediments which can now be efficiently mined by applying currently available dredging technology. Preliminary sampling by Bonaparte during 2007 demonstrated potential for enrichment to commercial grades (up to 35% P2O5).
Bonaparte also revealed that application had been made for nine new exclusive exploration licences covering an additional 9 000 squ km in areas of phosphate enrichment indicated by previous regional sampling and mapping. The Meob Project and EPL application areas are held in joint venture with Namibian partners Tungeni Investments cc, which has a 30% interest, while Bonaparte holds 70% interest and is the project operator.
Bonaparte’s specialist marine exploration and mining skills place it in a strong position to develop its marine phosphate projects on the back of the significant upward shift in the phosphate price cycle in 2008. Bonaparte’s Namibian licence and application areas are well situated for access to existing port facilities at Walvis Bay, and thereby for prime access to fertiliser markets along the Atlantic seaboard – particularly in Brazil – as well as in North America and Europe.
Bonaparte managing director Mike Woodborne commented: “We are on track with our plans for an accelerated programme to complete resource estimation and development of the existing Meob Project area off Namibia. We have a clear short-term objective to establish phosphate production and to be the first marine phosphate miners in Namibia,” he added