King River to scale down Speewah to focus on HPA
A refining breakthrough by King River Resources’ has converted the aluminium oxide from its Central Vanadium deposit into a high value 99.99% high purity alumina, or “4N HPA” product. The company’s decision to refocus on the aluminium content of the deposit has simplified its processing flow sheet ahead of the completion of its prefeasibility study that is looking to generate early cash flows from its Speewah project in the East Kimberly.
The HPA supply market is a high value, highly concentrated market with prices forecast to remain strong whilst new demand is expected to eventually match or exceed supply.
Demand for HPA has risen eight-fold since 2003 and is forecast to triple again by 2030 as its properties make it desirable for high-growth industries such as lithium batteries, LED lights and photonic technologies.
HPA is mostly chemically inert, has a very high melting point, conducts heat well and is very abrasive.
It is also used to make synthetic sapphires that are then used in semiconductor substrates, lasers and optical lenses. Additional uses include medical, optical, smart phone screens and watch glass.
HPA can add significant performance and safety enhancements when used in lithium battery separators and its use in that burgeoning field is generally driving interest in the product.
The Lithium battery HPA market is forecast to grow strongly as greener batteries creep into the auto and power storage markets.
4N HPA currently sells for between US$20,000 and US$30,000 per tonne.
King River’s Speewah project is most likely the largest vanadium-titanium-iron deposit in the world and whilst those three key products certainly have a market, King River has made the strategic pivot to HPA given the burgeoning markets that it is used in.
The company said that the vanadium-titanium-iron products would be focussed on at a later stage, thereby allowing the project to be scaled down to just focus on HPA initially.
Further test work will now focus on improving the purification and even producing a higher purity 5N HPA.
The company said: “The production of >4N HPA by our new Sulphuric Acid leach process is a very significant step forward for our SSM project and it has justified delaying the PFS to achieve this level of control and produce high specification material.”
“Refocusing our PFS on a smaller project producing only high value HPA product has simplified our process flowsheet and it may deliver valuable improvements to project economics.”
“The potential to add vanadium pentoxide and titanium dioxide into the product mix in the future will be under annual review.”
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