As part of its Cadoux pre-feasibility study, the Perth-based company has been refining its resource through drilling as well as advancing process design and test work.
FYI aims to deliver a commercial high-quality HPA product with low production costs into rapidly expanding tech and battery-related markets.
A reverse circulation (RC) drilling program of 75 holes for 1,613 metres was completed at Cadoux in May, providing FYI with further insight into its resource and relevant metallurgical applications.
It generated 640 2-metre composite samples which underwent analysis at the Intertek laboratories in Perth.
Along with a revised geological model, the drilling provided further kaolin feedstock for test work and process studies as part of the project’s pre-feasibility study.
These studies included in-situ moisture of the kaolin to determine specific gravity of the deposit; environmental base line studies; soil characterisation for rehabilitation and infrastructure site works; and down-hole geophysics for moisture and resource geometry.
FYI managing director Roland Hill said the drilling program had gone extremely well.
He said: “The site results looked visually excellent and the program also allowed us to complete other necessary program tasks including project quality assurance testing, environmental and base line studies as well as soil characterisation tests for project permitting purposes.
“The balance of the analysis for the RC drilling is consistent with the previous campaign results.
“This continues to support our opinion on the very favourable characteristics of the Cadoux deposit as a source of feedstock for the innovative HPA flowsheet we are developing.
“Understanding the geology and mineralogy of the project is fundamental to the success of the HPA refining and we are very pleased with the quality of the results for our development strategy.”
Ongoing mining study
With several study phases complete and increased project certainty, FYI appointed Orelogy Consulting Pty Ltd to undertake several key mining reviews of the proposed Cadoux operations.
Orelogy will review the early-stage mining site based on operational aspects of the project and provide an overview of its mining requirements.
These aspects include site layout options, on-site processing, water management and material movement reviews based on continuous versus campaign mining.
Speaking about appointment of study manager, Hill said, “As our HPA strategy builds in confidence and momentum, we are comfortable in progressing with broader development aspects of the project.
“Integral to the overall strategy and the project economics is the mining and other site-based operations at Cadoux.”
Hill said Orelogy had a good reputation in the industry and he was delighted to have them take responsibility for the mining aspect of FYI’s development strategy.
Metallurgical studies are ongoing and are managed by Independent Metallurgical Operations Pty Ltd.
Additional variability samples have been trialled to determine the impact on recovery and grade of a matrix of outcomes to determine optimal operating ranges.
Metallurgical matrix studies completed so far include:
High and low-grade samples
Impurities present in the ore (e.g. sodium, magnesium, iron, potassium
Leach optimisation of Cadoux kaolin
Testing the spatial variability of the resource
Variability leach test work
Improved understanding and control of the leaching process
Kaolin product testing to assess the potential of producing additional products
Completion of precipitation series test work
FYI produced HPA, which is 99.99% purity
In July the company conducted a marketing trip to China to assess the Chinese HPA market in relation to Cadoux’s pre-feasibility and product development.
Hill said the Chinese domestic market for HPA appeared very supportive of new supply projects.
“Attaining a good understanding of the dynamics of the China market is important to our strategy going forward,” he said.
“Our resulting view is very positive on the fundamental long-term outlook for HPA as we look forward to completing our pre-feasibility study in the September quarter.
“We will continue with our market evaluations of the other key markets of Taiwan, Japan and Korea during 2018.”
The company met with participants in the HPA sector during the China trip to gain insight into product specifications, characteristics and supply, and the demand and pricing metrics for the high-value 4N and 5N alumina products.
FYI has also engaged with a speciality metals advisory group with deep relationships into the markets of China, Taiwan, Korea and other Asian producers and consumers of HPA.
HPA market expected to grow
The HPA market is expected to see growth through an expansion of existing and new applications, according to commodity analysis group CRU.
CRU provided FYI with market intelligence on the increasing relevance of HPA, noting that traditional markets such as high-performance LED substrates and sapphire glass related product will continue growing.
Growth will also be impacted by a global uptake in electric vehicles and other emerging battery and power storage applications, which require high specification HPA in the separator component between the anode and cathode of the power cells.
By FYI’s evaluation 99.99% purity HPA will fetch between US$20-30 per kilogram, with upwards pressure from increasing demand and an evolving market.