Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) has identified potential high-value iron-titanium by-products from the flagship namesake project in Western Australia to support its objective of achieving the world’s lowest-cost vanadium production.
Bankable feasibility study innovations at the Australian Vanadium Project show that iron-rich calcine material will be generated as a waste stream from vanadium processing at the project.
The ability to sell the iron-calcine co-product via the Port of Geraldton makes the project globally unique in terms of an economic calcine sale as it is generally considered as a waste product in other projects and is stored in specially designed tailings facilities.
“Unlocking value”
AVL managing director Vincent Algar said: “Having a vanadium processing plant located close to the coast, combined with the amount of iron-rich calcine that’s forecast to be generated by our project, offers a big opportunity to unlock the value from what would otherwise be waste material.
“Our preliminary tests and market review support a technical path to upgrade the material to be a valuable co-product, unique to AVL’s operation.”
Shares were 18% higher on Thursday to 1.3 cents.
Prime location
The proposed project includes open cut mining, a concentrator and a vanadium processing plant to produce around 10,115 tonnes of V2O5 flake per annum just 18 kilometres west of Mullewa and east of Geraldton.
This vanadium processing plant location is a variation from the base case outlined in the PFS and offers multiple opportunities to improve the financial metrics of the project which is the focus of the current BFS work.
All other current and potential primary vanadium operations are constrained by distance and cost to ports.
Test-work underway
Piloting test-work on the vanadium recovery flowsheet is underway and has enabled the production of representative samples of calcine to be used for marketing and further characterisation and metallurgical test-work.
A PFS trade-off study, supported by more recent investigations, has determined that sale of the calcine “as is”, could improve the project economics.
Sales evidence from similar material with reference to the prior eight years of 62% iron ore benchmark pricing indicates that calcine sales above US$50/tonne (CFR China) are likely to be achievable under the majority of market conditions.
AVL is actively negotiating offtake agreements for vanadium produced from the Australian Vanadium Project and is working towards being in a similar position with an optimal calcine product.
Discussions with several potential purchasers for the calcine on an ‘as-is’ basis are continuing.
Critical metals research
AVL has compiled preliminary market research on various product options for calcine or calcine derivatives, the outcomes of which will be used as part of the critical metals research program, aimed at improving the efficiency of vanadium processing.
AVL’s A$4.9 million research initiative is partially funded by a Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) grant from the Australian Federal Government.
Funded by the grant, the company is pursuing further value addition to the iron co-product by:
Pelletising;
Upgrading iron-titanium by-products by further removal of gangue and other techniques; and
Developing a processing solution for separating titanium from the calcine.
Vanadium and titanium are both recognised as critical metals by Australia and its major trading partners.
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