THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Neometals (ASX: NMT) has successfully produced high purity (>98%) titanium hydrolysate (hydrated titanium dioxide ‐ TiO2.2H2O) from the titanium recovery stage of the Australian pilot plant trial at the company’s Barrambie titanium and vanadium project in Western Australia.
Neometals noted that the titanium recovery from Barrambie concentrate exceeded 90 per cent, adding that the batch Titanium Pilot results confirm the technical feasibility of the company’s process at pilot scale for the production of a high purity intermediate (hydrolysate) used in the titanium pigment process.
The Barrambie resource contains high‐grade ilmenite intergrown with a vanadium‐bearing magnetite (iron).
The Neometals process flowsheet has demonstrated it can produce a superior intermediate feed material that is safer, cleaner and cheaper to produce titanium pigment from.
Further upside in this flowsheet for Barrambie is the recovery of the accessory vanadium and iron in a saleable form.
Neometals explained the Titanium Pilot is the first key evaluation milestone under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) the company has with Chinese metallurgical group, IMUMR.
Under the terms of the MoU, if IMUMR funds the demonstration plant program at its extensive research facilities in China, and both parties agree to jointly fund a formal evaluation study for a mining and concentrating operation at Barrambie with subsequent downstream processing in China, the parties may negotiate in good faith the terms of a 50:50 production JV.
Samples of titanium hydrolysate have been freighted for evaluation by prospective concentrate offtake customers, being titanium pigment producers within and outside of China.
Neometals indicated the next evaluation step is the recovery and production of a vanadium by‐product from the primary leaching stage of the Titanium Pilot Plant.
While all this is going in, Neometals is preparing approximately 10 tonnes of gravity and magnetic concentrates from the high titanium grade Eastern Band for a proposed Chinese demonstration plant trial.
The company anticipates the vanadium test work and concentrates shipment should be completed by the end of the March Quarter 2020.
“We are confident our flowsheet can produce the highest value‐in‐use for potential customers and recover maximum value from the deposit for Neometals and its partners,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Proving an ore can be concentrated and converted to high purity chemicals at good recoveries is the first step in attracting quality offtakers to enable the development of globally significant industrial mineral projects, whether they be lithium or titanium.
“The outcomes to date bode well for advancing our commercialisation plans in 2020.”