Aspiring battery chemical producer Pure Minerals (ASX: PM1) confirmed its subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals (QPM) has produced high purity alumina (HPA) at laboratory scale, demonstrating its potential as a co-product for the planned refinery in northern Queensland.
Part of the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH) project in northern Queensland, the 4N HPA was generated by Perth-based The Simulus Group, which was engaged by QPM to assess the potential of upgrading the TECH’s aluminium hydroxide product stream.
Simulus produced the HPA using a prepared synthetic liquor based on the aluminium hydroxide specification generated from QPM’s mass and energy (METSIM) model for the TECH.
The liquor reflects re-leaching the aluminium hydroxide in hydrochloric acid.
From this, Simulus conducted amenability testwork and successfully produced HPA of 99.99% (4N) purity utilising four stages of aluminium chloride hexahydrate precipitation followed by calcination to HPA.
Simulus has most recently been linked to a bankable feasibility study for a 4,500 tonnes per annum HPA processing plant in Malaysia being constructed by Altech Chemicals (ASX: ATC).
4N HPA is reported to be the most widely-used product in the HPA market, commanding between $28,000 and $43,000/t.
Pure Minerals managing director John Downie said the potential for QPM to produce HPA as a co-product would add significant value to the TECH project.
“[We] recognise that while demand growth for HPA is predicted to be significant, there are a number companies that are seeking to supply the market,” he said.
“QPM’s competitive advantage would be in producing HPA from a lower value complementary product, improving and diversifying [our] revenue streams.”
QPM will soon begin a scoping study for the production of HPA using the aluminium hydroxide material.
“We look forward to progressing [our] studies to confirm the economic potential of HPA for this project,” he said.
Electric Vehicle feedstock
QPM is developing the TECH to process imported, high-grade nickel-cobalt laterite ore from New Caledonia to produce nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and other valuable co-products.
The subsidiary has two 10-year ore supply agreements with New Caledonian-based cobalt and nickel producers Societe des Mines de la Tontouta and Societe Miniere Georges Montagnat SARL.
The agreements will allow it to purchase 600,000tpa of ore with minimum grades of 1.4% nickel and 0.15% cobalt to produce battery-grade nickel and cobalt sulphate for the electric vehicle industry.
It will also generate co-products of hematite, magnesia and aluminium hydroxide, the latter, of which, could be potentially be further refined into high purity alumina.
HPA has been considered integral to Pure’s revenue stream with applications including battery separator coatings in electric vehicles as well as synthetic sapphire used in semi-conductor wafers for the electronics industry and scratch-resistant glass for wristwatch faces, optical windows and smartphone components.
In July, the Townsville City Council said it would set aside a block of land in the Lansdown industrial precinct to house the TECH project.
Located 40km from Townsville, Lansdown is currently zoned as rural land but the council is in the process of re-zoning the precinct to a strategic high-impact industrial centre designed to attract new industries such as advanced manufacturing.
Other projects committed to the precinct include an 18GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant being developed by the Imperium3 consortium, comprising Magnis Energy Technologies (ASX: MNS), C4V LLC New York and Boston Energy & Innovation.
QPM has also received confirmation from the Port of Townsville that a berth will be available to discharge imported ore from New Caledonia.
Available land at the port site will allow for the construction of intermediate storage facilities for nickel ore and final end-user products.
At mid-afternoon, shares in Pure Minerals were up 11.11% to $0.02.