Bench-scale testing by Australian Vanadium (ASX: AVL) has confirmed the potential of iron and titanium-rich calcine as a valuable by-product for the company’s namesake vanadium project in Western Australia.
The emerging producer has undertaken initial testwork on the material, which was considered a tailings stream within the project’s roast-leach process, as outlined in its pre-feasibility study released last December.
It aimed to upgrade the calcine to a higher-grade product (at least 62% iron), which could be sold into the global iron ore market and potentially generate significant additional revenue over the life of the project.
According to the company, the testwork successfully upgraded the calcine iron content from 54% iron to an average of 66% iron.
Australian Vanadium chief operating officer Todd Richardson said the indicative tests “support a technical path to upgrade the material to be a valuable by-product”.
“With the amount of iron and titanium-rich calcine that’s forecast to be generated by the Australian Vanadium project process, there is a big opportunity to unlock the value of this material”.
Work is now underway to physically separate a portion of the titanium, which is expected to further upgrade the calcine material and improve its value, the company reported.
Australian Vanadium said it is also actively negotiating potential offtake deals for both the vanadium and the calcine by-product produced from the project.
The Australian Vanadium project, previously referred to as Gabanintha, lies 40km south of Meekatharra in WA’s mid-west.
It is currently one of the highest-grade vanadium projects being advanced globally, with resources of 183.6 million tonnes at 0.76% vanadium pentoxide, containing 96.7Mt at 1% vanadium pentoxide in measured, indicated and inferred categories.
The project’s total ore reserve is 18.24Mt at 1.04% vanadium pentoxide including 9.82Mt at 1.07% vanadium pentoxide of proved reserves.
Major project status
Today’s news follows last week’s achievement of being awarded Major Project Status by Australia’s resources and industry ministries.
The award, announced by Industry, Science and Technology minister Karen Andrews in conjunction with Resources and Northern Australia minister Matthew Canavan, formally recognises the project’s “national strategic significance” through its contribution to economic growth and employment in regional WA.
The status is awarded for a three-year period and will enable Australian Vanadium to access streamlined assistance with government approvals.
“These products are rare and in high demand, and these projects will generate millions for our economy, create jobs in regional areas and bring important permanent infrastructure investment,” Ms Andrews said.
Australian Vanadium managing director Vincent Algar said formal recognition of the importance of the project will give overseas investors comfort when considering investment.
He added that assistance with the approval process, which is currently underway by the company, would be “most welcome”.
Vanadium redox flow battery sale
Also last week, Australian Vanadium announced its wholly-owned subsidiary VSUN Energy sold a solar and vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage system to a Victorian farm.
The order is subject to the unnamed client being awarded a Victorian on-farm energy grant under the Agriculture Investment Energy Plan.
However, Australian Vanadium reported the client has already paid a deposit for the set up.
The deal involves VSUN installing a 100kW solar system with a 20kW power, 80kW energy storage VRFB at an apple orchard in Packenham in the state’s Gippsland region. The system is expected to provide a minimum of four hours of stored renewable energy.