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Altech de-risks kaolin mine by purchasing freehold

Altech Chemicals now owns the 92 hectares of freehold land beneath its remarkable kaolin deposit near Meckering in W.A, further de-risking the project that boasts enough kaolin to feed a high purity alumina plant for 250 years.

In a market update to the ASX this week, the Perth junior, who has ambitious plans to become the world’s leading producer of high-purity alumina, said settlement on the sale of the freehold title at Meckering had been finalised following subdivision of the registered land title and the issuing of certificates of title.

Altech is in the final stages of completing the last plank of its funding package  to build a technologically advanced, high purity alumina plant that to be fed with Altech’s Meckering kaolin.

Altech says its kaolin at Meckering is so pure that it can be processed directly into high purity alumina, bypassing the traditional and costly stage of first converting it into an aluminium metal.

The Meckering mine was approved for mining a year ago and in August, works approval for the construction of a kaolin screening and loading facility was granted.

Altech Managing Director Mr Iggy Tan said: “Finalising the purchase of the freehold land covering granted mining lease M70/1334 marks the completion of another important milestone in the advancement of our HPA project. The land will ensure unimpeded access to M70/1334 for Altech. The proposed Meckering kaolin mine is fully permitted and construction of the kaolin screening and loading facility and initial mining can proceed once the balance of project finance is secured.”

High-purity alumina is used to manufacture synthetic sapphire which is in turn used for the manufacturing of substrates for LED lights, semiconductor wafers used in the electronics industry and scratch-resistant sapphire glass used for wristwatch faces, optical lenses and smartphones.

It is also a critical element used in lithium-ion batteries as it acts as a separator of cathode and anode sheets. High purity alumina with a purity rate of 99.99% has sold for between US$25,000 and US$40,000 a tonne,.

The seriously high-purity of the kaolin deposit at Meckering appears to give Altech a major advantage over rival producers.

Persistence Market Research has predicted that global demand for high purity will soar from 25,315 tonnes in 2016 to 86,831 tonnes in 2024, representing an impressive annual compound growth rate of nearly 17%.

This is one significant reason why Altech was able to secure a US$190 million debt package from German bank KfW IPEX - comprising US$170 million that is guaranteed by the German Government and US$20 million on standard commercial terms over a seven-year period.

The German funding package left Altech to raise a further US$108m to complete the package and the company says it is looking into mezzanine debt amongst other things. 

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