THE DRILL SERGEANT: Sheffield Resources (ASX: SFX) has completed Low Temperature Roast (LTR) optimisation test work as part of a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) being carried out on the company’s 100 per cent-owned Thunderbird mineral sands project, located near Derby in northern Western Australia.
Sheffield Resources said the test work had been successful in optimising LTR settings to deliver a product likely to exceed premium specifications for the large Chinese market and increase marketability in the broader global market.
The company said the results follow recent marketing and offtake discussions in Asia which confirmed Thunderbird LTR ilmenite as higher grade (56 to 58 per cent titanium dioxide [TiO2]) and lower in key impurities than existing African and Australian ilmenites imported to China.
Sheffield explained the recent test work achieved premium specifications for the Chinese sulfate pigment market by generating an ilmenite product with iron III oxide (Fe2O3) levels below 13 per cent, whilst maintaining high acid solubility and reactivity.
“The Thunderbird ilmenite product is now at the top end of the quality spectrum and will compete with all global ilmenites due to its high grade, low impurities and high reactivity,” Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Results demonstrate the flexibility of Sheffield’s ilmenite upgrading process allowing premium products to be tailored to a broader range of customers.
“Thunderbird ilmenite will be one of the highest grade sulfate feedstocks available globally and will likely displace other lower quality ilmenites in the market.
“Offtake discussions have progressed with leading global ilmenite and zircon consumers.
“Further ilmenite samples will be dispatched over the coming weeks to advance those discussions.
“We continue to progress discussions in parallel with completion of the BFS and the evaluation of funding options and potential partnering opportunities.
“We are pleased that improved market conditions for mineral sands are emerging, particularly for sulfate ilmenite, with prices rising by 50 per cent over the past 12 months.
“Zircon prices have also improved over this period as mines have closed and global inventories have begun to unwind.”