Emerging high purity alumina (HPA) producer Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC) has discovered halloysite at its Kerrigan kaolin deposit in Western Australia.
The mineralisation was observed during the processing of samples from an aircore drilling campaign conducted last year.
Altech said initial x-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy investigations into the presence of halloysite have been encouraging.
One of the six samples examined demonstrated “abundant tubular structures” consistent with halloysite while three other samples showed similar rod-like structures and their tubular nature will be confirmed with further investigation.
Altech has embarked on further test work involving 31 samples which will aim to confirm and determine the significance of the initial results.
The company said the occurrence of halloysite at Kerrigan does not imply any economic benefit at this stage.
The Kerrigan deposit is located 20 kilometres south of the central wheatbelt town of Hyden and sits within an exploration licence which covers approximately 480 square kilometres.
The licence was granted in 2015 and is now wholly-owned by Altech.
Halloysite is a tubular form of the kaolin group of minerals and occurs naturally as microscopic (or nano) tubes, the diameter of which is measured in nanometres (or one millionth of a millimetre).
The mineral has long been prized in the manufacture of high-grade porcelain and ceramics due to its ability to improve strength and enhance chip-resistance.
The properties of halloysite nanotubes make end products suitable for a range of specialist applications and attract a significant premium above the average kaolin price.
Halloysite has been used in research for the development of fibre reinforcements in polymers and micro-containers for the controlled delivery of active agents.
More recently, it has been promoted as a low-cost alternative to carbon nanotubes which have high-tech applications in hydrogen storage and carbon capture.