King River Copper has laid claim to the highest-grade vanadium concentrate of any Australian mineral deposit after successfully completing metallurgical tests on the company’s massive Speewah project in the Kimberley. Perth-based King River said the bar had been raised by grinding and separating test work that produced a magnetite-ilmenite concentrate of 2.11% vanadium pentoxide, elevating Speewah to vanadium royalty status.
After completing a new round of hard-core metallurgical test work, King River Copper has laid claim to the highest grade vanadium concentrate in Australia.
With investors now moving rapidly to get some exposure to vanadium, King River is also able to boast the largest vanadium-in-magnetite deposit in Australia and quite possibly the world.
The Perth-based company’s Speewah project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia has already racked up a staggering 4.7 billion tonne resource at an average grade of 0.3% vanadium pentoxide.
Whilst the in-ground grade is relatively modest, King River has been able to show that it can be upgraded easily
In a market update this week King River said metallurgical consultant Nagrom had received a 29.47kg, drill core sample for beneficiation test work from a high-grade zone of Speewah’s central vanadium deposit.
The sample assayed 0.393% vanadium pentoxide, 3.561% titanium dioxide and 21.225% iron oxide straight out of the ground.
The metallurgical process began with the entire core sample being crushed to 2mm and then progressively crushed to smaller sample sizes all the way down to 0.075mm before being passed through a medium intensity magnetic separator..
Ultimately, King River were able to produce a final concentrate grading 2.11% vanadium pentoxide, 16.23% titanium oxide and 66.27% iron oxide.
According to company management, 2.11% vanadium pentoxide represents the highest grade vanadium of any Australian mineral deposit.
The aim for King River is to simplify and reduce the cost of processing ore at Speewah with the ultimate goal being to reduce the capex estimation to get the project into production that was struck back in 2012.
The company appears to be well on its way to achieving that goal with the latest round of metallurgical testing.
For example, the overall mass yield has increased 27% from a mass yield of 13% used in the Scoping Study of 2012.
Speewah is flat lying and jumping out of the ground at surface and has King River shareholders salivating at its potential to emerge as a major supplier of vanadium feedstock to a clean-energy demanding world that is rapidly awakening to the metal’s game-changing potential.
King River’s shares have already run hard from around 1c at the start of the year to 17c providing a massive windfall for those shareholders that have stuck with the company for the long haul.
High purity levels in the complex processing of both vanadium and titanium is the holy grail for producers, particularly for the highly coveted ferro vanadium used as an alloy for steel strengthening and increasingly for emerging large-scale battery technologies.
Earlier this year King River’s assays produced 99.5% purity vanadium pentoxide and leach trials increased the purity levels of its titanium dioxide product from 99.1% to 99.5%.
In a recent statement the company said, “This beneficiation result shows that Speewah high grade zone magnetite gabbro can be significantly upgraded by initially coarse grinding and magnetic separation methods to produce a magnetite-ilmenite concentrate at good grade and vanadium and titanium recoveries and reject about 67% of the waste minerals in the sample.”
“This intermediate concentrate can then be further upgraded by grinding to P80 120 microns and with further magnetic separation produce a magnetite-ilmenite concentrate of 2.11% vanadium pentoxide, the highest vanadium concentrate grades of all Australian vanadium deposits.
“All previous beneficiation test work has been done at much finer grind sizes where all the rock was ground to 45 micron, or 0.045mm, before magnetic separation. This new staged beneficiation circuit at coarser grain sizes has the potential to reduce the cost of producing a magnetite-ilmenite concentrate at Speewah.”
Whilst many others are just waking up to the vanadium opportunity, King River is well ahead of the play with its massive defined resource that importantly, boasts some exquisite metallurgy.