Technology Metals Advancing Towards Yarrabubba Iron-vanadium Project Development In 2021

Technology Metals Australia Ltd (ASX:TMT) (FRA:TN6) is focused on the development of its Yarrabubba Iron-Vanadium Project this year, with recent test-work confirming an exciting mix of high-quality, high-value products that are highly sought as economies continue to emerge from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high-purity, high-grade Yarrabubba iron ore product is attracting significant customer interest, underpinning the development of this lower entry cost project that is complementary to, and expected to reduce funding and implementation risk for, the low cost, long life Gabanintha Vanadium Project.
The project has an ore reserve of 9.4 million tonnes at 45.3% iron and 0.97% vanadium and a mineral resource of 27.7 million tonnes at 38.7% iron and 0.9% vanadium.
trong test work results
The company is confident that Yarrabubba will produce premium iron ore for a booming market, with large-scale test work confirming the high-grade, high-purity iron ore (magnetite) product and delivering 64.3% iron and 62.6% iron at 125-micron grind size (average 63.4% iron).
Low levels of deleterious elements at weighted average included 0.62% silicon dioxide, 0.96% aluminium oxide, 0.017% sulfur and 0.001% phosphorus.
The company is now preparing bulk sample composites.
Titanium (Ilmenite) by-product
Notably, test work on larger scale non-magnetic tails delivered an indicative specification for the titanium by-product (YIP1) containing 46 to 47% titanium dioxide, with generally low deleterious elements.
The company’s industry consultants TZMI estimate YIP1 will achieve US$140 – US$180/tonne FOB (real 2020) in the medium term.
Test-work is continuing to optimise the Yarrabubba titanium by-product and refine the flowsheet for the titanium separation circuit, including investigating flotation to remove base metals (cobalt, copper and nickel) from the nonmagnetic tails stream.
abanintha DFS completed
At the company’s Gabanintha Vanadium Project, which has a resource of 109.5 million tonnes at 0.8% vanadium, the definitive feasibility study (DFS) has been completed.
A crushing milling beneficiation (CMB) circuit will be built at Gabanintha, which pilot test work has demonstrated will produce very high yield to magnetic concentrate with low deleterious elements.
Additionally, 7.5 tonnes of magnetic concentrate processed through the pilot-scale rotary kiln delivered average vanadium recovery of 88.6%, confirming an end-to-end vanadium recovery of 77% for fresh massive magnetite ore.
The project is expected to achieve average annual production of 27.9 million pounds of premium +99% purity product at the lowest cost quartile operating costs with crusher feed in excess of 1.0% vanadium for at least the first 12 years.
Collaborations and offtake
The company is progressing negotiations for a life-of-mine iron-vanadium offtake and EPC contract with Sinosteel Equipment & Engineering Co., Ltd (MECC).
This technical collaboration supports the ongoing development of the final flowsheet design for the project.
Offtake and project development partner engagement has also progressed, with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) executed with Japanese VRFB group LE System and the MOU with Big Pawer expanded and extended.
To date, around 6,000 to 10,000 tonnes of TMT’s proposed production of 12,800Tpa V205 are covered under the Binding Offtake and MoU.
Iron ore and vanadium outlook
Iron ore prices (62% Fe, CFR China) have increased from US$63/tonne to US$180/tonne over the last 12 months, with prices for 63.5% Fe iron ore (delivery Tianjin) up to more than US$190/tonne.
China produced 1.05 billion tonnes of steel in 2020 with the March quarter 2021 output 15% higher than March quarter 2020 and producers struggled to keep up with strong demand in March quarter 2021 due to operational challenges and weather issues.
Looking forward, the premiums for higher purity product are increasing due to desire for higher quality with lower environmental emissions.
According to Fastmarkets (April 2021), high-grade iron ore with Fe more than 63.5% looks set to expand by 17.5% over the decade of the 2020s and attract higher prices than standard and lower grade iron ore, with customers willing to pay a premium for higher-grade iron ore with lower impurities such as alumina and silica.
In addition, vanadium prices are looking favourable, with a tightening domestic Chinese market due to increased consumption in steel as part of stimulus spending in infrastructure in response to COVID-19.
Ongoing development activities
Upcoming activities at the company’s projects include:
Gabanintha Environmental Review Document – draft submitted, initial review underway;
Evaluation of logistics, haulage routes, port – draft report done, options analysis progressing;
Definition of process flowsheet – indicative CMB flowsheet defined, titanium circuit progressing;
Resource infill/extension RC drilling – commence late May;
Resource estimation, upgrade – scheduled July/August;
Pilot-scale test work, customer sample generation – scheduled for June/August; and
Preparation of Yarrabubba environmental submissions to progress Mining Approvals.