UK-listed, Africa-focused miner Marula Mining has approved a nearly R26m ($1.37m) resource drilling exploration and mine planning programme at the Blesberg lithium and tantalum mine in South Africa.

Located in the Northern Cape province, the Blesberg project is considered to be one of the largest known mineralised pegmatite deposits. It has also been the largest source of tantalum in the country.

Historically, the location produced spodumene concentrate (containing lithium) along with tantalite, feldspar, bismuth, beryl and mica. Samples from 2016 revealed lithium oxide deposits assayed between 1.27% and 6.42%.

The scope of the programme includes an airborne geophysics study across the prospecting licence and new licence areas at the project, and 2,900m, 38-hole diamond drilling, exploration trenching and geological modelling.

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By GlobalData

Furthermore, an open-pit mine design study, initial mining works, slope stability, groundwater and geohydrology studies, and environmental management studies will also take place under the programme.

The airborne study will cover the Blesberg prospecting licence and an additional 1,200km² area for a survey size of 539 line kilometres with a line spacing of 100m.

Funding for the programme is being provided by Q Global Commodities’ subsidiary Q Global Mining through a partnership announced in January this year.

As part of the conditional subscription agreement, Q Global agreed to provide £3.75m ($4.76m) for an issue of up to one billion shares in Marula Mining.

Marula Mining CEO Jason Brewer said: “Our activities at the Blesberg Lithium and Tantalum Mine are moving ahead at pace. Whilst we are continuing to progress the mining and processing of the high-grade spodumene and lithium mineralisation in the historic stockpiles, we are now also moving ahead with a resource drilling exploration and mining programme.

“This study work will give us an indication of the opportunity that I believe Blesberg presents to Marula and to shareholders. 

“It is important to highlight that it is through the funding agreements and ever-strengthening relationship that we have with Q Global Commodities that we are able to make these commitments for the planned resource drilling exploration and mining programme and move ahead so quickly.”