Emerging strategic metals developer TNG Limited (ASX: TNG) has received in-principle approval for a landmark Native Title Mining Agreement at its wholly-owned Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project, 230 kilometres north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
The project milestone follows a successful onsite meeting last week between TNG, the native title holding group and the Central Land Council to discuss the proposed Mount Peake mining plan as well as the key terms of the agreement, which have been negotiated over the past year.
TNG subsequently received notice that the native title holders are supportive of the Mount Peake development, allowing a Native Title Mining Agreement to be executed with the Eynewantheyne Aboriginal Corporation (the representative native title body corporate for the native title holders of the land) and the CLC.
Once signed, the agreement will enable the NT Government to grant the Mount Peake mineral lease and related ancillary mineral leases and pave the way for the project to move into financing, site-based construction activities and offtake discussions.
TNG managing director Paul Burton said the agreement is a “major step forward” which will have added benefits for the local community.
“This [agreement] will lead to security of tenure and approval for the development of our proposed mining operation at Mount Peake,” he said.
“It will also bring a range of significant benefits to communities in the region including employment, training and economic opportunities.”
The Native Title Mining Agreement resolution follows environmental milestones also achieved this year at Mount Peake.
In January, the NT Government completed a successful environmental impact assessment of the project and in May, the project’s mine site component received environmental approval.
World-first TIVAN hydrometallurgical process
TNG is currently advancing finance discussions for an A$853 million operation at Mount Peake, located in the highly-prospective Arunta geological province of Australia’s northern development hub.
The proposed development will comprise an open pit mine and onsite 3 million tonnes per year concentrator (expanding to 6Mtpa in a stage 2 development plan).
The concentrator will be linked by rail to an advanced TIVAN hydrometallurgical metals refinery to be located in Darwin.
TIVAN is a patented process developed by TNG in conjunction with Germany’s SMS Group GmbH, METS Engineering and the CSIRO to hydrometallurgically extract vanadium, preferably as vanadium pentoxide, from titano-magnetite orebodies, and for separating the titanium and iron into saleable by-products.
The conventional method of vanadium extraction is via a salt roasting energy-intensive, pyrometallurgical process, suitable for only a narrow range of selected ore compositions, and water leach route to recover a water-soluble vanadium compound.
With TIVAN, the vanadium is recovered entirely through a hydrometallurgical route incorporating leaching and solvent extraction.
TNG’s early stage TIVAN pilot testwork at CSIRO’s hydrometallurgical facility in Western Australia “exceeded expectations”, achieving commercial vanadium recoveries greater than 93% and producing high-purity vanadium pentoxide of greater than 99% purity, with high-purity iron oxide and titanium dioxide recovered as saleable by-products.
By late afternoon, shares in TNG were up 12.5% to A$0.135.