Latrobe Magnesium moves to construction stage of new production plant, targets increased global demand

Latrobe Magnesium ASX LMG feasibility tudy construction stage Victoria Latrobe Valley Yallourn ash
Construction of an initial 3,000 tonne per annum magnesium plant in Latrobe Valley is expected to commence later this year in December.

Development company Latrobe Magnesium (ASX: LMG) is moving forward with construction of its proposed $54 million magnesium production plant in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, as part of an agreement signed last year with EnergyAustralia Yallourn Pty Ltd.

In January 2018, Latrobe entered into the four-stage agreement whereby EnergyAustralia would supply industrial ash to the 3,000 tonne per annum plant.

Latrobe has completed two stages and is poised to move onto stage three construction activities by year end, subject to confirmation of ash supply terms and other conditions.

The fourth and final stage will involve expansion of production capacity to 40,000tpa using Yallourn ash from its ash landfill site which will supply extended operations for 10 years.

Feasibility study

A recently-completed feasibility study for the magnesium plant estimated a $54 million capital cost including design growth and contingencies of $6 million, plus an additional $2 million for working capital over a 20-year life.

The study showed an estimated earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation contribution of up to $5.6 million per annum when operating at nameplate capacity.

Chief executive David Paterson said he was “extremely positive” the plant would demonstrate a higher potential EBITDA on the back of a magnesium price jump over the past two years.

Plant process

Situated on an 11 hectare site in the centre of Victoria’s coal power generation precinct, Latrobe’s magnesium plant will employ a world-first process of combined hydromet and thermal reduction to harvest magnesium metal from industrial fly ash (a waste stream from brown coal power generation).

The first stage is expected to provide up to 75 construction jobs, with another 240 during the expansion phase.

The plant’s location will give Latrobe direct and constant access to feedstock, with first production scheduled for late 2020.

Latrobe has already signed agreements with Japanese and US distributors to sell all of its initial production and a significant part of its 40,000tpa expanded production.

Magnesium demand

Magnesium is 75% lighter than steel and 33% lighter than aluminium.

It has the best strength-to-weight ratio of all common structural metals, superior dimensional stability and high impact and dent resistance, making it an ideal component in the manufacture of car parts, laptop computers, mobile phones and power tools.

Worldwide demand for magnesium is approximately 1Mtpa and growing, led by China’s car industry which has previously announced its plans to increase the magnesium content in new vehicles from 8.6kg in 2017 to 45kg by 2030.

Latrobe plans to sell refined magnesium from its plant under long-term contracts to Australian and overseas customers.

Australia currently imports all of the 8,000t it consumes per year.

At midday, shares in Latrobe were up 33.33% to $0.008.

Imelda Cotton has over 20 years experience as a journalist and communications professional. She has spent the bulk of her career in the resources sector, having also worked directly with oil and gas majors and as a journalist covering a vast array of ASX listed companies within the resources, energy, science and health sectors.