Aquila's Avontuur project area is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa near the towns of Kathu and Hotazel. Kathu is approximately 520 kilometres south-west of Johannesburg and Hotazel 68 kilometres north of Kathu. The project is comprised of the Avontuur and Kathu tenements. The tenements are currently held in a joint venture in which Aquila holds a 74% stake.
The village of Hotazel was built to accommodate workers employed on the manganese mines. In 1960, the railway line was extended from Sishen to Hotazel. The town of Hotazel is adjacent to South African Manganese Armcor Limited's (Samancor) Mamatwan manganese mine and sinter plant as well as the Wessels underground manganese mine and railway terminal. The largest local manganese producer, Samancor, was formed through the merging of two manganese producers, SA Manganese and African Metals Corporation (Armcor), in 1975.
The Manganese deposits of the Northern Cape are found within the structurally preserved Griqualand West basin of the Transvaal Supergroup. Iron Ore occurrences are found within the Ghaap Group, which is uncomfortably overlain by the Postmasburg Group which contains the Manganese-bearing Hotazel Formation.
The manganese-bearing Hotazel Formation is generally covered by the Karoo Supergroup and Kalahari sands of various thicknesses. The only outcrop is observed at Black Ridge where the Hotazel Formation has been thrust up.
The Kalahari manganese field is made up of five structurally preserved erosional relics of the Hotazel Formation, consisting of an iron formation with interbedded units of manganese ore. Two main ore types are present in the Kalahari deposit, namely low-grade primary sedimentary Mamatwan-type ore and hydrothermally altered high-grade Wessels-type ore (Preston, 2001).
Portions of the manganese field are overlain by Dwyka tillite, which is preserved within a prominent north-south trending, paleo-glacial valley-fill along the central and western parts of the Kalahari Manganese Basin. In places the glacial valley fill is up to 600m deep, with individual channels known to cut down through the Hotazel Formation. These channels can sometimes cause partial or total eradication of the manganese-bearing horizons.
Drilling has been undertaken on the Eersbegint target in the south of the Avontuur tenement and on the Gravenhage target in the north of the tenement. On both targets, Aquila has intersected significant zones of manganese mineralisation with high grade levels, typical of the Wessels type ore found in the Kalahari Manganese Field.
Significant intersected manganese mineralisation include:
Access to both the project areas is very good, consisting of main bitumen covered roads and secondary gravel covered roads. Rail access is available from the Hotazel siding to Port Elizabeth on the south-east coast, servicing the Kalahari manganese fields. Power links are proximal to the tenements, however water resources are limited.