West Perth-based Bonaparte Diamond Mines NL (ASX: BON) announced today it has a JORC compliant inferred mineral resource of 196.1 million tonnes grading 15.8% phosphate at its Meob maritime project and projected it would have a resource update early this year following further “higher grade” sampling, including deeper core drilling.

The positive announcement on a good trading day on the Australian Securities Exchange saw Bonaparte’s shares lift marginally to A8.5 cents.

Bonaparte’s managing director Michael Woodborne said the resource estimate is based predominantly on coverage from grab samples which have a lower grade than the deeper sediments that have been accessed to date.

The mineralisation is open and thickens into an adjacent tenement which will be tested early this year.

The Meob project is part of a recently announced joint venture between Bonaparte (42.5%, and Namibian partners Tungeni Investments cc (15%) and Union Resources Ltd (42.5%). The joint venture incorporates Union’s adjacent Sandpiper marine phosphate prospect.

Woodborne said the estimation of wet bulk density of submarine sediments is a difficult exercise, and no attempt has yet been made to measure the bulk density of Namibian phosphatic sediments either directly or indirectly through geophysical methods.

“The preliminary inferred mineral resource estimate for the Meob project is in line with our expectations,” he said.

“We have determined that simple wet screening to sub-1mm produces enrichment to levels of up to 26% P2O5, indicating that the Meob project has significant phosphate resource potential for rapid development into production. These results bode well for our joint venture with Union.”

He said testing will move into 800 square kilometre area in the adjacent Sandpiper prospect.

In the 1980s and 1990s Woodborne spent most of his time based in Cape Town consulting to the marine and coastal diamond operators and explorers.

After moving to Australia in the early 2000s he worked as a consultant before taking up the helm at Bonaparte when it was floated, originally with its main aspirations of finding marine diamond deposits in the Bonaparte Gulf of far northern Western Australia. Fortunately, Woodborne also put the company into the offshore diamond scene in Namibia where he had worked as an operations manager, for the Bonaparte Gulf quest proved to be a great disappointment.