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Spitfire Resources secures key Pilbara manganese tenement

Spitfire Resources (ASX: SPI) has been successful in a ballot to determine competing applications for a highly prospective 111 sq.km manganese exploration project in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Spitfire has secured the highly strategic tenement, E45/875, as a result of a partial surrender of the ground by Consolidated Minerals, which operates the world-class 1Mtpa Woodie Woodie mine, located approximately 120km to the north.

The tenement is located some 50km south-east of Spitfire’s South Woodie Woodie Project, including the granted tenements covering its Tally-Ho Manganese Deposit and immediately north of the Nicholas Downs Manganese Project.

Mineral Resources Limited (ASX: MIN) recently commenced mining at Nicholas Downs under an agreement with Hancock Prospecting, with a production target of 40,000 tonnes per month of 40% ferruginous manganese. First shipments are scheduled for April 2010.

Spitfire’s application for the ground was contested by FMG Pilbara, Murchison Metals (ASX: MMX) and Hancock Balfour Downs.

The new tenement increases Spitfire’s total East Pilbara ground holding to over 1,500 sq km, comprising its original 80%-owned tenement holding of 430.1 sq.km at South Woodie Woodie, applications for a further 1,015.1 sq.km to the south-east and the new application of 110.7 sq.km.

The previous and new applications, totalling 1,125.8 sq.km, are 100% owned by Spitfire.

Spitfire said it is scheduled to commence drilling this week at South Woodie Woodie, testing an initial round of 16 targets for high-grade manganese.

In addition to the drill program, work during the first half of this year will include an aerial EM survey, a detailed mapping project and a rehabilitation program.

The company said the updated JORC resource for the Tally-Ho Deposit at South Woodie Woodie is scheduled to be completed by mid-April.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company