Australian Potash has announced it has successfully transferred brine from a pre-concentration pond into a salt harvesting pond at its Lake Wells sulphate of potash project, located near Laverton in W.A. The company will produce 250kg of refined trade samples for delivery to its MoU off-take partners during the 4th quarter of 2018. The ongoing test work will feed into the company’s DFS.
ASX listed Australian Potash has successfully transferred brine from a pre-concentration pond into the first of three salt harvesting ponds at its Lake Wells sulphate of potash project, located 180km northeast of Laverton in the Goldfields region of W.A.
The pilot scale evaporation pond network is a vital component for progressing the company’s DFS and will generate critical data for assessing climatic conditions for evaporation in the region and importantly, the quality and quantity of potassium salts that the company can produce.
The raw, hypersaline brine was initially pumped to the pre-concentration pond using one of five production bores, already installed around the project.
During the first trial, 110 tonnes of the pre-concentrated brine was transferred to the harvest pond and through the evaporation process, should produce 22 tonnes of harvested potassium salts, yielding about 2 tonnes of the desired sulphate of potash after refining.
The company is planning to produce 250kg of sulphate of potash trade samples in the initial production run for delivery to its MoU off-take partners during the 4th quarter of 2018.
Australian Potash Managing Director Matt Shackleton said: “Across the four major work streams we are progressing through the definitive feasibility study, the pilot ponds generate data essential to our understanding of the climatic-evaporation conditions, and the quality and amount of potassium salts we are able to produce.”
“Based on modelled average daily evaporation rates, we anticipate the evaporation process will be finished in the next 4 – 6 weeks. As evaporation rates are heavily correlated to daily temperatures, this process will speed up as we head into the hot part of the year.”
Australian Potash has two MoU’s in place to supply up to 100,000 tonnes per annum of sulphate of potash to Sino-Agri, China’s largest agricultural company and Hubei-Agri, which is one of China’s largest agricultural companies.
Hubei-Agri is located in one of China’s highest producing horticultural provinces and has a large and increasing demand for a stable supply of sulphate of potash chemical to support its growing business needs.
The Stage 1 development focus on the Western High Grade Zone at Lake Wells carries a JORC-compliant indicated mineral resource estimate of 8.1 million tonnes of drainable sulphate of potash mineralisation.
The current comprehensive pump testing trials will provide the company with meaningful data to determine the hydro-flow model and underpin a maiden JORC-compliant ore reserve estimate for the project.
Australian Potash has targeted the 1st quarter of 2019 for the completion of its DFS for Lake Wells.
In March 2017, the company completed a positive scoping study for Lake Wells showing a low CAPEX, high margin operation could be established at the project.
The study was based around a 20-year mine life, that generated 150,000 tonnes per annum of product for the first 5 years, ramping up to 300,000 tonnes per annum over the remaining 15 years.