Ongoing metallurgical test work at King River Copper’s (ASX: KRC) Speewah vanadium-titanium-iron project has generated high-grade vanadium pentoxide above 98%, with the company continuing to refine its processes to identify the optimum and most commercially viable production method.
Today’s news comes ahead of the vanadium scoping study which is due to be released this month.
King River Copper is targeting production of a 99.5% pure vanadium pentoxide powder and a standard 98% vanadium pentoxide flake product.
The company is also evaluating creating high-grade 99% titanium dioxide materials including pigment, as well as iron oxide hematite and vanadium electrolyte for use in the emerging vanadium redox flow battery sector.
“The evaluation of the best processing path to be taking to develop and/or market the Speewah deposits relies on the detailed process routes and studies currently being undertaken,” King River Copper’s board stated.
“Development planning may include the option to export portions of concentrate production,” the board added.
A bottle roll sulphuric acid leach test was undertaken on a 252.1g sample of magnetite concentrate produced from Speewah diamond core material.
The concentrate sample assayed at 1.7% vanadium pentoxide, 15.37% titanium dioxide and 60.04% iron.
Leach efficiencies after 58 days were 92% vanadium pentoxide, 76% iron, and 19% titanium.
According to King River Copper, the bottle roll test was carried out to develop baseline data on which materials leach under the best conditions.
Further tests are underway on 500g samples.
“While bottle roll sulphuric acid leaching test work is at a very early stage, King River Copper plans to examine the opportunity to heap or vat leach lump material, or a coarse-grained concentrate, to extract vanadium pentoxide, iron and titanium,” the board stated.
King River Copper’s boarded added it was also investing the potential of producing other by-products including extracting the aluminium and magnesium from the leach solutions to create high purity alumina and magnesium products.
During the hydrochloric acid leach and modified ammonium metavanadate process, 99% vanadium was generated from Speewah ore.
The process also created 54.6% titanium and 96% iron, with King River Copper explaining the lower titanium purity was a result of the extended leach time.
King River Copper is now carrying out a new leach to optimise the caustic leach and ammonium metavanadate recoveries and boost the vanadium pentoxide purity.
Another test investigated a new direct precipitation route to generate vanadium pentoxide.
It involved a shorter leach time, with leach efficiencies of 88.7% titanium, 99.1% vanadium and 96.4% iron.
Further tests using this process are ongoing to enhance the grades.
Meanwhile, the sulphuric acid leach method resulted in a 97% vanadium, 86.6% iron and 58.1% titanium.
Thermal hydrolysis is underway to extract the titanium and once eliminated, the liquor will be processed to produce a vanadyl sulphate, which can be used to create a vanadium electrolyte.
“The board is very focused on maximising the key strategic variables of the Speewah deposits, namely, their massive size, the outcropping flat lying geometry, the overall consistency of grades amenable to large scale mining methods and the unique tenor of the magnetite that enables the generation of a higher vanadium pentoxide grade concentrate compared to most peers,” the King River Board noted.
Speewah vanadium project
King River Copper wholly-owns the Speewah vanadium project in Western Australia’s east Kimberley.
The project has a measured, indicated and inferred resource of 4.7 billion tonnes grading 0.30% vanadium pentoxide, 2% titanium and 14.7% iron.
King River Copper is looking to develop an open cut operation and is currently evaluating the best process flowsheet to generate the vanadium pentoxide, titanium and iron products.
According to King River Copper Speewah is Australia’s largest vanadium-in-magnetite deposit comprising the highest vanadium grade within the magnetite-ilmenite concentrate.
Swimming against today’s red tide on the ASX, shares in King River Copper were up 4% to $0.052 by early afternoon.