THE DRILL SERGEANT: Australian Bauxite (ABx) (ASX:ABZ) is ahead of schedule with drilling at its Bauxite Deposit DL-130, located south-south-west of Bell Bay deepwater port in Tasmania on a privately owned plantation that is under harvest.
The company has encountered thicker bauxite than it expected of up to six metres thick over a wide area.
ABx said this suggests this project could commence production earlier than anticipated with minimal impacts, enabling it to return the land to plantation timber after extracting the surface layer of bauxite and replacing the thin soil layer.
“ABx invested in Tasmania after careful consideration of risks and potential rewards based on expert advice and an understanding of Tasmania’s special circumstances,” Australian Bauxite chief executive officer Ian Levy said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securites Exchange.
“We believe that with goodwill and common sense, ABx can develop a sustainable project in Tasmania.
“Our discovery of thick bauxite in viable locations near deepwater ports augers well for an early commencement of a bauxite extraction and export business from Tasmania.”
ABx Tasmanian bauxite tenements, deposits and drillhole locations (dots) and infrastructure. Source: Company announcement
Based on results it has received so far from 334 drill holes and 1,521 samples, ABx has estimated it can produce direct shipping bauxite (DSO) comprising gibbsite, which it explained is the premium low-temperature aluminatrihydrate mineral.
ABx claims all of its bauxites to be free of the refractory, high-temperature monohydrate alumina mineral called boehmite and levels of the deleterious reactive silica are very low.
These characteristics make the DSO bauxite ideal for sweetener bauxite circuits or as feedstock into lowtemperature alumina refineries.
The company noted there is often an upper layer of PDM-DSO bauxite comprising about 30 per cent pebble-sized grains of a black, glass-like alumina spinel, which is emery-like and called PDM.
This, it said, is saleable as bauxite in high temperature alumina refineries or extracted by simple gravity methods and used for higher-priced industrial products such as an abrasive or a source of alumina in nearby cement plants.