Firebird receives first key permit for Chinese manganese sulphate plant

Firebird’s pilot plant in China. Credit: Firebird Metals

Firebird Metals (ASX: FRB) announced on Tuesday that it has received the key safety permit for Stage 1 of its battery grade manganese sulphate plant in Hunan province, China.

The safety permit is one of three critical permits required to commence construction, the other two being environmental and energy. Applications for the remaining permits have been completed and their approvals are both expected in the June quarter.

Efficient receipt of the safety permit and advanced status of remaining key permits highlights the strong in-country support Firebird has to establish itself as a key high-purity manganese sulphate producer, the company said in a news release.

In China, there are a total of eight major permits required for construction and operation. Once all permits are obtained, and following a final investment decision (FID), which is anticipated to be made in H2 2024, Firebird is expected to immediately begin construction of the sulphate plant.

According to a feasibility study released earlier this month, the project has a projected capex of $83.5 million and opex of roughly $609/metric tonne for the production of battery-grade manganese sulphate.

“We are moving at a rapid pace on-the-ground in China and that is due to the hard work of our leading manganese team and the strong level of in-country support we have and continue to receive,” Firebird’s managing director Peter Allen said.

“We continue to tick all the boxes in the delivery of our high-purity manganese sulphate strategy and have defined a low-cost, near-term pathway to production,” he added.

According to the company, construction of the plant is projected to take approximately 12-15 months, with start of operations targeted for late 2025.

The Stage 1 plant is designed to utilize manganese ore provided by third parties to produce high-purity manganese sulphate (MnSO4). It will have a capacity of 50,000 tonnes per annum of battery-grade MnSO4 plus 10,000 tonnes of manganese tetraoxide (Mn3O4), or the equivalent of 72,500 tonnes of MnSO4 per year.