THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Sheffield Resources (ASX: SFX) announced the completion of metallurgical test work conducted for the Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) on the company’s 100 per cent-owned Thunderbird mineral sands project, near Derby in northern Western Australia.
The BFS is on schedule for release in early 2017.
The metallurgical test work was carried out on a 40-tonne BFS bulk sample, representative of the projects’ initial 6-7 years of feed.
Sheffield explained the work has enabled the process flowsheet to be optimised and resulted in high quality final products with optimisation of the wet concentration and concentrate upgrade stages resulted in further improved recoveries for the ilmenite and zircon products.
“In addition to confirming a robust process design, the test work has demonstrated further improvements to the ilmenite product quality and improved recoveries for both zircon and ilmenite products,” Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“Off-take discussions with leading global ilmenite and zircon consumers have commenced with samples dispatched for initial customer testing.
“Thunderbird ilmenite, with its low chrome levels and high acid solubility will be one of the highest grade sulphate feedstocks available globally and will likely displace other lower quality ilmenites in the market.
“The high-grade ilmenite with its low alkali levels and pre-reduced state will likely produce high quality chloride grade or sulphate grade slag with a high purity pig iron co-product.
“Signs of improving market conditions are beginning to emerge, particularly for sulphate ilmenite, where prices have started rising after four years of decline.
“Zircon prices have stabilised as mines are closed and global inventories start to unwind. Initial off-take discussions have generated strong interest from consumers globally and we intend to further progress discussions in parallel with evaluating funding options and potential partnering opportunities as we finalise the BFS.”
The high-quality final product specifications achieved from the BFS mineral separation process flowsheet and Low Temperature Roast (LTR) test work include:
Production of high-quality ceramic grade zircon of greater than 66 per cent zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) was achieved.
Production of high-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) with low alkalis and chromium suitable for:
Feedstock for sulphate pigment plants – 56.1 per cent TiO2;
Production of chloride grade and sulphate grade slag – 88% TiO2; and
Potential blended feedstock for chloride processing as well as LTR ilmenite able to be produced at higher grades (57-59% TiO2) for this potential market.
A product suited to the flux cored wire welding market, production of titanium sponge, or blended material for processing via the chloride process.
A zircon rich concentrate (44% ZrO2, 20% TiO2) suited to zirconium chemicals industry.
A co-product from the LTR process suited to furnace protection in the steel feed industry.
Sheffield indicated appraisal of this co-product will be undertaken to determine its marketability and value as a contributor to the revenue stream.