THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Australian Potash (ASX: APC) released results of laboratory based test-work carried out on the company’s 100 per cent-owned Lake Wells potash project in Western Australia.
Australian Potash claimed the results have confirmed the conversion process of muriate of potash to sulphate of potash to be utilised at Lake Wells.
The company went on to say that the test-work had also confirmed the ability of the project to increase its sulphate of potash (SOP) output by 50,000 tonnes per annum to 150,000 tonnes per annum in stage 1, and by 100,000 tonnes per annum to 300,000 tonnes per annum in stage 2.
APC explained this would be achieved by utilising a similar non-Mannheim conversion process to that currently used at the largest brine SOP operation outside of China (Compass Minerals, US).
APC’s Canadian based SOP engineering consultants Novopro, led the test-work program as well as the plant design and process engineering for APC’s study programs.
“The Lake Wells SOP project has very high levels of sulphate, which itself is a valuable fertiliser component,” Australian Potash executive chairman Matt Shackleton said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Sulphate provides a natural, high-quality source of sulphur, often referred to as the fourth ‘macro-nutrient’
APC explained the difference the conversion process it intends using compared to the Mannheim process.
APC said its conversion process will not create the additional reagent expense associated with purchasing sulphuric acid, as sulphate is already present in our brine.
The company considers the economic case for developing this conversion facility to be compelling considering the low marginal operating costs associated with producing an additional 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes of SOP from essentially the same plant.
“Our project team continue to de-risk the three essential components of a brine SOP operation, being brine extraction, brine evaporation and salt processing,” Shackleton said.
APC will soon commence its Stage 2 test-pumping program that will add to the plus-20 million litres of test-pumping already conducted
This test-pumping program will feed into the brine flow model for brine extraction, building on decades of understanding and operation of brine bore fields in WA.
“All approvals are in place and contractors appointed to commence the pilot evaporation pond development, aiming to confirm construction techniques and validate site evaporation data,” Shackleton continued.
“This program goes to the evaporation model, and will be enhanced in Q3 2017 with the Stage 2 evaporation pond program which includes the development of a second set of evaporation ponds at site.
“The test-work program being managed by Novopro, as discussed here, further de-risks the process design. SOP processing plants utilise well understood technology and engineering, and our consultants have experience designing and commissioning them at sites around the globe.
“This test-work program will continue to optimise the plant design and engineering component of our development over Q3 and Q4 2017.”