King River Resources has taken a big step in its ambitions to build a processing plant for high purity aluminium with the go-ahead for a definitive feasibility study on a facility at Kwinana to produce precursor aluminium compounds to feed the lithium-ion battery market. The project is a reduced version of the original plan for a full-scale HPA plant.
King River Resources has taken a big step in its ambitions to build a processing plant for high purity aluminium with the engagement of Como Engineers to carry out a definitive feasibility study on developing a plant to produce precursor aluminium compounds to feed the lithium-ion battery market. Work on the study will start immediately, and be completed by May 2022, with the scope taking in capital and operating cost estimates for the plant, which is earmarked to be built at Kwinana, south of Perth.
King River has its sights on a 2000 tonnes per annum high purity aluminium, or “HPA” type one precursor product processing facility to produce 5N, or 99.999 per cent purity, high-value aluminium precursor compounds used in batteries.
The project in the DFS is a scaled-down version of King River’s original vision for a full-scale plant to produce about 9,000 tonnes of 4N, or 99.99 per cent purity, HPA a year.
The Perth-based company outlined its plans for a DFS into the larger version of the plant recently after producing some impressive numbers in a pre-feasibility study, or PFS, earlier this year. It said last month it would also consider the smaller-scale option at the same time. The PFS indicated that with the reduced scale option, King River could leverage its accumulated intellectual property to significantly reduce capital and operational costs compared to the full-scale option, and the smaller alternative could even produce a higher rate of financial return.
King River said the pivot in its DFS strategy to the smaller option would put the focus on high-value aluminium precursor compounds used in manufacturing lithium-ion battery cathodes. The company said the move was driven by the need to quickly address the rapidly growing market and to take advantage of the significant work it had already accumulated.
Como Engineers, which provide engineering services and specialist products to the mining and resources sector in Australia and overseas, has already worked extensively with King River including on the PFS for the HPA processing plant. King River said key personnel from the PFS work would continue through to the DFS stage, maintaining continuity and the ability to leverage off the knowledge base already developed.
HPA is a product in demand due to its increasing use in a range of technologies such as LED lighting, smartphone screens and computer monitors.
Recently studies by technology groups such as ASX-listed Altech show the addition of HPA to lithium-ion batteries not only boosts performance but adds to their longevity, delivering a new and booming market for the product.
King River has identified its Speewah Dome magnetite deposit in WA’s Kimberley as also bearing significant alumina content. Its detailed metallurgical tests on Speewah ores have led to development of a simple processing circuit that uses conventional crystallisation and calcination to produce the 4N HPA powder.
King River’s process can also treat a wide range of ores and precursor products, delivering the planned Kwinana plant a potential smorgasbord of feed from locally sourced material to imported feedstocks.
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