Encounter Resources Intersects Tanami Bedrock Gold

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Encounter Resources (ASX: ENR) reported on recent drilling activities undertaken at the Afghan and Mojave prospects in the Tanami region of Western Australia with Joint Venture partner Newcrest Mining.

Red 5 Continues Growth at King Of The Hill

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Red 5 Limited declared its decision in the December 2019 Quarter to boost underground drilling capacity at the company’s King of The Hill (KOTH) project in Western Australia with three diamond rigs, has paid off.

Peel Mining Drills New Southern Nights Gold Zone

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Peel Mining (ASX: PEX) reported the discovery of strong gold mineralisation associated with a new high-grade zone at the southern end of the Southern Nights deposit from the recent resource upgrade drilling program at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Wagga Tank-Southern Nights project, located south of Cobar in western New South Wales.

Neometals Produces High Purity Dioxide Hydrolsate

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.

Magnetic Resources Encounters Encouraging Gold Results at Lady Julie

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Magnetic Resources (ASX: MAU) has completed an initial RC drilling program at the Lady Julie project, not far from the company’s Hawks Nest 9 project, located near Laverton in Western Australia.


Neometals Produces High Purity Dioxide Hydrolsate

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.”





Neometals Drills Mt Edwards Nickel Results

THE DRILL SERGEANT: Neometals (ASX: NMT) has been encouraged by assay results from reverse circulation (RC) drilling at the Mt Edwards nickel project near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Neometals completed drilling, sampling and down-hole electromagnetic (DHEM) surveys conducted across the Widgie 3 and Gillett deposits and the Widgie 3 North, Rhona and Widgie 3 South prospects.

These deposits and prospects, including Widgie Townsite, are collectively known as the Widgie South Trend and are located on Mining Lease M15/94 south of the community of Widgiemooltha.

In addition, further drilling was carried out at the Lake Eaton prospect on Exploration Licence E15/989.

Drill assay results include:

16 metres at 1.45 per cent nickel, including 2m at 4.79 per cent and 5m at 1.81 per cent nickel;
21m at 1.05 per cent nickel, including 4m at 2.42 per cent nickel; and
7m at 1.37 per cent nickel, including 3m at 2.39 per cent nickel.

“Neometals is progressively increasing the quantity and quality of its Mt Edwards Nickel Mineral Resources and improving the geological understanding with modern geophysics,” Neometals said in its ASX announcement.

“The company is very pleased with the outcomes of this exploration program, which represents the first drilling for nickel at the Widgie South Trend since April 2008.

“The four kilometres long Widgie South Trend zone, with its three Mineral Resources, contains an estimated 67,000 tonnes of nickel, in a pro-mining jurisdiction located near major road, rail and energy infrastructure in a world class nickel camp.”

In addition to the positive assay results, Neometals indicated it has conducted also DHEM surveys on all 13 drill holes completed at the Widgie South Trend which show several conductors considered to be strong targets for nickel sulphide mineralisation.

Further DHEM surveys are currently being conducted on historic drill holes across the Widgie South Trend to generate further drill targets.





Lithium Australia and Neometals Leading the Australian LIB Recycling Pack

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: There is little doubt that the world is currently in the thrall of the lithium-ion battery (LIB).

They help us survive the modern struggles that we encounter on a daily basis, such as maintaining a charge on our mobile phones or computer-related devices, thus keeping us contacted with the rest of the world and our family members in the next room.

They are, presently, our greatest source of portable power.

They are also, ironically, creating an environmental nightmare.

Analysts who like to make themselves important have made some big predictions in recent years, especially in regard to the market penetration of LIBs, particularly in the electric vehicle (EV) sector.

Through all the noise in this space, it has generally filtered through that it is likely that the availability of spent batteries will rise to more than seven million tonnes annually over the next 20 years.

Diligently, we sort our household rubbish each week, or fortnight, depending on the generosity of your local council, into different levels of importance, filling any number of bins to assuage our collective waste related guilt.

On a global basis, however, only around nine per cent of spent LIBs are recycled to keep them out of landfill and recover valuable metals.

In Australia, which is supposedly one of the recycling powerhouses, the recycling rate is embarrassing, some would say woeful, coming in at less than three per cent.

What this all means is that the world is missing out on a great opportunity – that being the large quantity of batteries discarded globally actually represents a potentially significant resource.

Australia is a long way behind the countries that are presently leading the battery recycling wars.

Belgium, South Korea, China and Canada recycle the most batteries, with the metals they contain generally recovered by smelting – or as it is referred to by those in the know – pyrometallurgical processing.

Pyrometallurgical processing of spent LIBs can efficiently recover nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese from LIBs, but not the lithium or graphite.

Research and development into the science by Western Australia-based battery recycling company, Lithium Australia (ASX: LIT) realised that a potential alternative to the downsides associated with pyrometallurgical processing is to take a hydrometallurgical approach.

Lithium Australia is developing a hydrometallurgical technique that recovers all metals, including lithium, from spent LIBs.

Lithium Australia has openly declared that its corporate intentions include shoring up an ethical and sustainable supply of energy metals to the battery industry, thus enhancing energy security in the process.

The company is eager to create a circular battery economy and has highlighted the recycling of old lithium-ion batteries to new is intrinsic to this plan.

In October 2019, Lithium Australia announced it had increased its equity in Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd (EA) to 23.9 per cent.

Envirostream is the only company in Australia with the integrated capacity to collect, sort, shred and separate all the components of spent LIBs.

Another string to Lithium Australia’s LIB bow is it 100 per cent-owned subsidiary company, VSPC Ltd that has developed advanced processes for manufacturing lithium-ferro-phosphate (LFP) cathode powders at its R&D and pilot plant facility in Brisbane, Queensland.

The cathode powders produced by VSPC possess simple nanotechnology that produces superior battery cathodes, provides control of composition and particle size in a precise manner and highly reliable quality control with low production costs.

Recent evaluation of VSPC’s Gen 4 LFP cathode material was undertaken at Chinese battery producer DLG Battery Co., Ltd. That saw the materials assessed in a commercial 18650 battery-cell format under a range of electrochemical and temperature conditions and subjected to long-term cycle testing.

The testing concluded that VSPC’s LFP material met DLG’s stringent specifications for use in LIB cells for both power and energy applications.

VSPC also received positive feedback from Japanese battery-cell producers, which are evaluating its LFP products at laboratory scale with the electrochemical performance of VSPC’s LFP material meeting the rigorous Japanese requirements.

“This year has seen a significant shift in the Chinese battery markets, with greater demand for LFP for use in short-range electric vehicle and energy-storage applications,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said.

“The test results from battery producers in China and Japan show clearly that the performance of VSPC cathode powders is comparable to other materials currently supplied for the production of LFP LIBs.

“We look forward to furthering our partnerships within the battery industry and, ultimately, supplying products that meet not only VSPC’s stringent quality specifications but those of its international customers.”

Lithium Australia anticipates the market for LFP to grow strongly in the next 10 years, due to its particular suitability for energy storage and certain types of transportation, which includes being a replacement for lead-acid batteries in various automotive applications and as back-up for power supplies.

Another Western Australian company that was an early battery recycling proponent is Neometals (ASX: NMT).

Neometals has been also carrying out LIB Pilot test-work, however its focus is the recovery of very high-purity (+99.9%) nickel-sulphate solution from the hydrometallurgical processing stage of its patent pending recycling technology.

The latest tests produced nickel recovery from shredded battery feed into nickel product that exceeded 98 per cent.

The Pilot test-work being is being undertaken on behalf of Neometals by SGS Canada Inc.

The work represents part of the pre-development activities for a proposed commercial LIB recycling venture targeting greater than 90 per cent recovery of LIB materials from electric vehicle and consumer electronics production scrap and end-of-life cells.

Neometals shredded and processed 2.3 tonnes of spent commercial LIBs during the initial Feed Preparation Stage of the Pilot test-work.

A total of 980 kilograms of mixed cathode and anode materials, known as Black Powder, fed the subsequent hydrometallurgical processing stage, from which chemical products are recovered and refined into high-purity cathode intermediate materials.

The Hydrometallurgical Processing stage leaches the Black Powder and sequentially recovers cathode materials, which are refined to generate high-purity chemical products for potential sale directly into the battery supply chain.

As the Pilot test-work program draws towards completion, it does so having recovered a suite of materials, including copper, manganese, cobalt and nickel-sulphates.

“The Pilot test-work continues to deliver very encouraging results that support the Neometals desire to sell high-purity cathode materials back into the battery supply chain,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said.

“With provenance, ethical supply and material scarcity concerns, a sustainable, secure supply chain will be key for leaders in energy storage.

“Eco-friendly recycling will play that vital role and our development timing aligns well with global forecast cell capacity against the projected supply deficit in traditional mine-sourced battery minerals.”

Neometals said the purity and the recovery rates of the nickel product materially had exceeded its expectations, enabling it to tick off another milestone in the confirmation of the technical feasibility of the company’s proprietary process.

The company explained that the recovery of cobalt and nickel are key drivers of the project economics adding that the Pilot purity/recovery data strongly supports the validity of previous economic evaluations.

Neometals expects to hit its remains on schedule for completing the bulk of the Pilot stage by December 2019.

It is also expected that the recovery of lithium will be due to commence prior to year-end and be concluded in January 2020 along with outcomes from final purification and crystallisation to produce ultra-high purity, cathode materials.

Successful completion of the Pilot and confirmation of the mass-energy balances are the key technical considerations for SMS Group’s due diligence for a 50:50 joint venture decision.






Neometals Commences Lithium Battery Recycling Pilot

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Neometals (ASX: NMT) completed commissioning of stage 1 of the company’s lithium‐ion battery (LIB) recycling pilot plant in Canada.

Neometals engaged SGS Canada Inc. (SGS) to construct and operate the pilot in that company’s fully accredited Lakefield facility, which is recognised worldwide for housing pre‐eminent expertise in the development, optimisation and piloting of mineral processing and chemical extraction processes.

SGS will undertake Pilot front‐end feed preparation (shredding, removal of metal casings and plastics) as part of the Stage 1, as well as the subsequent hydrometallurgical processing and refining stage to deliver high‐purity battery materials for market qualification (Stage 2).

Neometals explained the Pilot is intended to demonstrate and showcase its mixed feed flowsheet which can accommodate a variety of LIB types from multiple sources including consumer electronics, electric vehicle batteries and the emerging stationary storage sector.

The Pilot aims to verify assumptions Neometals made at bench scale, it will generate marketing samples of products and will also provide essential data required for a front‐end engineering design study (FEED).

The proposed FEED study will support a subsequent feasibility study and enable consideration of an investment decision on a commercial plant (FID).

“We are delighted to see our battery recycling project back on track,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The commissioning of the Pilot represents a significant milestone and marks the culmination of extensive research and development into a flowsheet to process multiple battery chemistries, from consumer electronics to electric vehicle applications.

“With ever increasing volumes of commercial LIBs reaching their end of life, we are focussed on proving at scale, then qualifying our scale‐able and modular recycling solution with industry as early as possible.

“The Pilot will serve as a showcase facility for potential partners as well as provide strong independent data for future engineering and financial studies.”

Despite regions like the European Union (EU) being heavily regulated under battery recycling compliance schemes, it is estimated that only approximately five per cent of LIBs are currently recycled globally.

Worldwide regulation tightening coupled with corporate requirements for ethical sourcing and disposal of LIBs, thus creating an opportunity for Neometals to recover critical / non‐renewable resources while reducing environmental impacts associated with battery disposal.

Neometals has developed a process flowsheet to recover greater than 90 per cent of all battery materials (plus recycle water and minimise plastic and graphite waste) from targeted end of life LIBs that could otherwise find their way to land fill or inefficient base metal recovery circuits.

Neometals’ process flowsheet targets the recovery of cobalt from consumer electronic batteries (devices with lithium cobalt oxide cathodes (“LCO”) as well as nickel‐rich EV and stationary storage battery chemistries (lithium‐nickel‐ manganese‐cobalt (NMC) cathodes).

This mixed feed flowsheet is the subject of the Pilot.