Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) has produced 99.4% high purity vanadium pentoxide in pre-pilot test work for the Australian Vanadium Project in Western Australia with the product quality being comparable to standard products from existing global producers.
The positive bench-scale test work has achieved the target V2O5 flake product quality and exceptional roast leach vanadium extraction.
A bench-scale metallurgical test-work program was undertaken to optimise the refinery flowsheet for the project.
Results identified improvement to the pre-feasibility study design and showed that higher vanadium recoveries and lower reagent usage can be anticipated in the planned pilot-scale testing, which will be used to support the finalised definitive feasibility study (DFS) design.
Australian Vanadium director Vincent Algar said: “With the production of a producer-peer comparable high-purity product and the significant process improvements identified, our confidence increases further as we continue to improve and de-risk the project with each step.”
Shares were up more than 21% to an intra-day high of 2.3 cents.
Roasting tests were performed on magnetic concentrate that had been pelletised using a binder.
The roasting at optimised temperature and reagent conditions resulted in a vanadium roast leach extraction of 94%, a substantial increase from 88% without pelletising.
This compares with the roast vanadium extraction of 87.9% applied in the pre-feasibility study (PFS).
An alternative vanadium production route known as APV (ammonium polyvanadate) was tested on the leachate produced by roasting and generated a final product quality of 99.4% vanadium oxide, which was independently verified by an accredited laboratory.
Magnetic concentrate prior to roasting (left) and post roasting (right)
The PFS design was based on a vanadium roast leach extraction of 87.9% and indicative tests have shown extractions as high as 96% for optimised bench conditions.
A full refinery circuit vanadium balance and therefore vanadium recovery, will be developed from the pilot testwork program in quarters three and four of 2019.
The PFS adopted an 80.4% life of mine (LOM) average vanadium recovery for the refinery circuit.
Improved vanadium recovery in the refinery process can potentially deliver an overall improvement in post-tax project net present value (NPV) of US$14.3 million for every 1% increase, assuming a price of US$13/lb.
Algar added: “The company’s aim is to become the world’s lowest cost vanadium producer and our team is achieving regular breakthroughs to bring the costs down and further improve the project economics.
“We have a strong focus on seeking to understand our unique mineralisation in detail through the analysis of historical and current drilling programs, test work and studies.”