King River Resources has said it is closing in on better than 99.99 per cent pure high purity alumina in metallurgical testing that will take centre stage in a new pre-feasibility study for HPA at its giant Speewah project in WA.

After an ambitious shift by the company away from the original plan for vanadiumtitanium-iron production at Speewah, King River’s PFS for an initial open pit mining and HPA refining operation is due for completion this year.

The company originally intended to extract vanadium and titanium from its Speewah speciality metals deposit in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. However, more recently, it determined that the project, that also boasts a stellar high purity alumina deposit, would be more lucrative if it focussed primarily on the HPA product instead of the titanium and vanadium.

HPA is the mineral of the moment right now as it acts as a separator for the anodes and cathodes for lithium-ion batteries that are used in the burgeoning electric vehicle market.

It is also used in the manufacture of LED lights which have pretty much become the norm in the lighting market now.

King River said that beneficiation magnetic separation test work and sulphuric acid leaching tests are nearing completion at Nagrom in Perth. Most importantly, hydrometallurgical refining test work by TSW Analytical in Perth is focussing on producing a greater than 99.99% high purity alumina, or “4N HPA”, product, which should ensure its pathway to market.

HPA sells for around US$40 per kilogram with demand forecast to grow courtesy of the boom in battery metals.

King River said it identified a quicker route to get 95% of the aluminium out of the same leach solution at the start of the vanadium, titanium, iron and magnesium extraction process, which eliminates any further processing to recover the metal. The process involves sulphuric acid leaching in heated tanks to extract the HPA from the ‘non-magnetic’ portion of the ore.

The company said that it expects the ‘magnetic’ portion of the ore that contains the vanadium and titanium will be stockpiled for future processing.

Management said this week that the Coronavirus crisis should not impede its operations too much as it is mostly desktop and lab work now that is required to get its Pre-feasibility study on the street.

Whilst the lab work may be slowed up somewhat due to the current environment, King River said it was all systems go for a number of other key elements of the PFS including the process plant design and costings which Como Engineers are well advanced with.

CSA Global has also pulled together the initial pit optimisation and pit design for the pivot into HPA.

With 4.7b tonnes of ore at Speewah, King River’s PFS will be fascinating and it will be very interesting to see just how much money you can make out of these things – particularly when they are really large deposits.

www.ferroalloynet.com