Technology Metals Looks To Boost WA Vanadium Mine Life

Technology Metals Australia is continuing to work on a string of activities as part of an ongoing “integration study” that will look to boost the mine life at its Gabanintha vanadium project in WA by over 55 per cent. The study is designed to incorporate ore from the company’s nearby Yarrabubba deposit, which it says could boost the expected mine life at Gabanintha from 16 to 25 years.
Yarrabubba and Gabanintha combine to form Technology Metals’ broader Murchison Technology Metals Project, or “MTMP”, located south of Meekatharra in central Western Australia.
A resource base incorporating both deposits take in a whopping 146.2 million tonnes grading 0.8 per cent vanadium pentoxide, including a high-grade component of 79.8 million tonnes at a very respectable 1.1 per cent vanadium pentoxide.
Technology Metals has already run the ruler over Gabanintha by way of a 2019 definitive feasibility study, or “DFS”, that returned a sensational total EBITDA of just over $4 billion for the estimated 16-year mine life.
The DFS did not include any ore being trucked from Yarrabubba in its first pass.
Technology Metals is now evaluating the potential of open pit mining, beneficiation and high purity vanadium processing in an integrated operation at MTMP that combines both Gabanintha and Yarrabubba.
The ongoing integration study will incorporate a recent resource update for Yarrabubba where 36.6 million tonnes at 0.8 per cent vanadium pentoxide was estimated, including 20.2million tonnes at 0.9 per cent vanadium pentoxide classified in the higher confidence indicated category.
Technology Metals believes an integrated operation at MTMP could optimise production and reduce operating and capital costs. Furthermore the company believes the life of the project could be extended to more than 25 years and production fast-tracked, all via the integrated operation.
The integration study is expected to be wrapped up by the middle of 2022. A swathe of works for the study is ongoing, including metallurgical test work at Yarrabubba to confirm ore operating parameters and vanadium and titanium by-product recoveries.
Management says a range of small-scale roast-leach tests to support ore reserve assessment and financial modelling are being conducted on the main ore lenses at Yarrabubba.
A 120kg sample of magnetic concentrates across varying grind sizes from Yarrabubba ore is now also set for roast–leach testing to assist in design of a proposed roasting kiln at the project.
Downstream test work on calcine from previous pilot kiln testing has now confirmed vanadium pentoxide purity going more than 99.5 per cent and delivered process efficiency improvements, according to the company.
Technology Metals plans to get the rods turning at Yarrabubba early in the new year with the aim of upgrading a significant portion of the current indicated mineral resource to the higher confidence “measured” category.
Consisting of 22 infill holes, the campaign will also look to generate a large representative bulk sample for metallurgical testing and evaluation by potential customers.
Up to five diamond holes designed to amass data on geotechnical parameters of the proposed pit walls and to aid in the final design of an open pit at Yarrabubba will also be drilled.
In its endeavours to fast-track MTMP into production, the company has appointed mining industry veteran, David English, to the newly created Chief Operating Officer role. Mr English was previously engaged by Technology Metals as Project Director to support the DFS works on Gabanintha.
Management says an integrated MTMP provides an opportunity to bring forward vanadium production and potentially enable the company to capitalise on the rapidly evolving energy storage sector.
Vanadium is a key component in vanadium redox flow batteries, or “VRFBs” – a type of rechargeable flow battery utilising vanadium in different oxidation states to store energy for later use.
According to the company the benefits of VRFBs include a long lifespan of more than 20 years and an ability to provide grid stability to both small-scale and larger-scale energy storage solutions. Furthermore, Technology Metals says VRFBs are non-flammable and deliver improved safety when compared to the much-vaunted lithium-ion batteries.
Interestingly the original technology for redox flow vanadium batteries was invented in Australia however the original patent has now expired and it is open season for anybody that wants to use the technology.
Vanadium could soon play a surprising yet starring role in the green energy revolution being waged around the world and Technology Metals could find itself in the box seat if its study on an integrated vanadium and titanium MTMP delivers the goods.