West African diversified miner Mano River Resources has announced an initial mineral resource estimate of 1.08 billion tonnes of iron ore at the Putu Range project in Liberia where it owns a 38.5% stake.

The Independent Mineral Resource Estimate, produced by SRK Consulting, showed that for a 2.6km section of the 12km ridge the inferred resources total 1.08 billion tonnes at a grade of 37.6% total of banded iron formation mineralisation.

The resource estimate is significant as it covers less than a quarter of the total project area, Mano president and CEO Luis da Silva said.

“Although early in the exploration programme, this is encouraging in order to reach the sort of scale that will enable such a large infrastructure project to become economically viable,” da Silva said.

The company is currently in discussions with the government for a 25-year mining licence.

The remaining interest in the project is held by Severstal Resources, which invested $30m in the project and is working with Mano to produce a pre-feasibility study during 2010.