Neometals achieves 99% titanium recoveries at Barrambie
ASX listed strategic minerals developer, Neometals, has hit the hydrometallurgical jackpot, with recent test work on its Barrambie ores in in WA recovering a whopping plus-99% titanium.
The uber-successful minerals developer has now confirmed that it can successfully recover high purity, hydrated titanium dioxide, or titanium hydrolysate, from the hydrometallurgical processing stage of its preferred processing flowsheet.
This is a significant development for Neometals given that titanium hydrolysate is an intermediate product in the production of titanium pigment, which currently enjoys a global market of around 7 million tonnes per annum.
The company is now testing the potential of its hydrolysate as a feedstock for the production of titanium metal powder after successfully producing lithium titanium, an emerging lithium battery anode material.
The company is also looking to produce a vanadium pentoxide by-product.
Neometals’ latest test work, which was deigned to extract the most titanium and vanadium value from its Barrambie resource, confirms the technical feasibility of the company’s hydrometallurgical flowsheet to produce a high purity chemical at recoveries that have exceeded expectations.
The staged pilot work started at the company’s laboratory in Montreal and is now continuing at Strategic Metallurgy’s facilities in Neometals’ home town of Perth in WA.
Around 800 kilograms of Barrambie Eastern band mineral concentrates were leached in hydrochloric acid to produce a “bulk pregnant leach solution”, which yielded a 70% recovery of vanadium, and a “bulk leach residue”, wherein the massive 99% titanium recovery was achieved.
Strategic Metallurgy is now constructing a small pilot plant to process the leach residue of titanium hydrolysate for product development and evaluation purposes.
Earlier this year, the enterprising Neometals struck up a Memorandum of Understanding with leading Chinese metallurgical expert, the Institute of Multipurpose Utilisation of Mineral Resources Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, or “IMUMR”.
The MOU establishes a hydrometallurgical demonstration plant for Barrambie’s feedstock and possibly a subsequent 50:50 joint venture moving forward.
China is the world’s leading titanium producing country, accounting for around 31% of global output.
Delegates from IMUMR plan to visit Perth next month to review Neometals’ progress and discuss potential sites for downstream processing on their home turf.
If all goes to plan, it is possible the Australian-prepared mineral concentrate will be sent to China in 2020 for processing through the demonstration plant.
By all indications, Neometals has found itself in the driver’s seat when it comes to titanium market dynamics.
During 2018, titanium pigment, which is used in paints, plastics, inks and specialty coatings, accounted for 90% of the 7.4 Mt of titanium produced globally. Titanium hydrolysate plays a key role in the production of pigment, which bodes particularly well for the WA company.
Moreover, if it is successful in using its feedstock to produce titanium metal powder, Neometals will also be exposing itself to another 5% of the global titanium market.
“Barrambie will be very well placed to provide a long term, reliable supply of environmentally sustainable titanium feedstocks for the highest quality applications.”
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