Alloy, what’s this?

A PERTH-BASED group wants to build a $200 million North West production plant to supply ferro-chrome and maganese alloys to stainless and carbon steel producers.

If a study shows the plant is viable, it could be capable of producing up to 150,000 tonnes of ferro-alloys a year.

Consolidated Minerals managing director Michael Kiernan confirmed that his company had held talks over possible funding of the project with Tim Adams and Michael Walters, directors of Australasian Ferro-Alloy Pty Ltd a subsidiary ProMet Engineers.

However, Consolidated Minerals, which produces 350,000 tonnes of manganese annually, was not ready to commit at this early stage despite being supportive of the project.

The project could sit well with Consolidated Minerals, which has just bought back the Coobina Chromite deposit near Newman, sold to Danelagh Pty Ltd directors Ken Houghton and Patrick Divin in 1996.

Under the terms of the purchase, Consolidated Minerals has an option – to be exercised by July 30 – to acquire a 100 per cent interest in the Chromite company for $1.075 million and will provide up to $2 million in fully secured loan funding, which will come from existing cash reserves.

According to Danelagh director Ken Houghton, Australasian Ferro-Alloy was looking at the possibility of building a plant in Port Hedland.

Manganese alloys fetch about $400 a tonne against just $100 a tonne for raw manganese ore, while ferro-chrome commands about $300 a tonne compared with only $60 a tonne for chromite.

HiTec Energy has indicated plans to develop a $209 million electrofuel project which will produce about 40,000 tonnes a year of electrolytic manganese dioxide for use in batteries.

Consolidated Minerals already has entered a contract to supply tailings to the HiTec Energy Port Hedland plant when it is operational.

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