King River Resources’ plans for the development of its giant Speewah multi-metal deposit in the East Kimberley have received another economic boost - pictured is an aluminium-rich precipitate

King River extracts high-value aluminium from Speewah

King River Resources’ plans for the development of its giant Speewah vanadium, titanium and iron deposit in the East Kimberley have received another economic boost in the form of positive test work findings as the company continues its crusade to show that good metallurgy can make a project. King River is looking to optimise its flowsheet ahead of a pre-feasibility study and it is now looking to also recover high purity alumina or “HPA” with an updated process.

Recent test work on the new process revealed impressive extraction rates in excess of 90%.

King River appears to have identified a quicker route to get aluminium out of the same solution which eliminates any further processing to recover the metal.

Aluminium is the precursor to making HPA that has a growing demand in high-value technology markets.

It is used to produce sapphire glass for substrates in the light‐emitting diodes, semi-conductors and laser markets. It is also used to coat separators for lithium batteries, a use that is becoming increasingly common due to its ability to improve both efficiency and safety.

The new flow sheet also has the potential to significantly lower operating costs as it uses more commonly sourced and therefore less expensive chemicals in the extraction process in addition to not requiring excessively high operating temperatures which reduces the drain on energy supplies.

There is a swathe of options for improvement yet to be realised for King River, with optimisation processes ongoing including further refinements to the flowsheet, maximisation of by-products and therefore minimisation of waste, scalability and site selection.

The production of vanadium pentoxide, titanium dioxide pigment and iron oxide products from Speewah is the main game for King River at Speewah but aluminium is looming large now as a potential heavy lifter in the economics of the project.

During August, the company flagged the potential to reduce the estimated capital cost of Speewah down by USD$152m.  The biggest drivers of this material potential cost reduction were achieved by reducing mining rates to correspond with the throughput capability of the acid leaching plant, following its continuing metallurgical testwork.

Speewah currently holds a mammoth global resource at Speewah of 4.7 billion tonnes grading 0.3% vanadium pentoxide, 3.3% titanium dioxide and 14.7% iron.


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