Heavy Minerals (ASX: HVY) has increased the inferred mineral resource at its Inhambane heavy mineral sands project in southern Mozambique by 59%.

The new estimate is 90 million tonnes at 3 per cent total heavy minerals (THM) and takes into account an additional 30.3 square kilometres of prospective tenure secured by the company adjacent to Rio Tinto’s (ASX: RIO) and Savannah Resources’ 4.4 billion tonnes Jangamo joint venture project.

The new land contains a mineral resource discovered during Heavy Minerals’ first air-core drilling program in 2014.

The company plans to conduct metallurgical testing of stored samples from that program to supply sufficient material quantities to conduct scoping study testwork and develop a process flowsheet for expected mineral products.

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The work will help deliver an understanding of the pathway forward to commercial development.

Inhambane’s updated estimate comprises 2.7Mt of contained THM, up from the previous 1.7Mt.

The mineral assemblage is dominated by ilmenite (60%) and features credits of zircon (5%), rutile (2%) and leucoxene (4%).

Mineral sands have recently been subject to significant increases with benchmark ilmenite pricing rising approximately 60% since late 2020 to US$350 per tonne (A$499/t).

Zircon pricing has also jumped considerably to now command around US$1,500/t (A$2,140/t).

Heavy Minerals said the increase in resource pricing justified a reduction in the resource cut-off grade used for reporting the Inhambane estimate, from a historical 2% THM to 1.7% THM.

Heavy Minerals’ mining application in Mozambique has been amended to include the new ground which was previously ceded when the company transitioned an exploration licence to a mining licence application.

The ceding complied with National Institute of Mines regulations whereby application boundaries must be rounded to the nearest 10 seconds.

A subsequent application resulted in the mining licence being extended to the south and the west to include an area previously drilled by Heavy Minerals.

The updated resource estimate is contained within a relatively small portion of the mining license application.