The vat leaching trial will focus on leaching at atmospheric temperature and pressure where there is the potential to lower capital costs.
Small-scale vat leaching
Platina will assess the application of a small-scale vat leach technology used for nickel laterite ores to scandium processing in a bid to establish a smaller, lower-cost project better aligned to the low volumes of the current scandium market.
While conventional high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) may recover more metal, the technology is more complex, larger scale and requires considerably more capital.
Core Metallurgy in Brisbane has been engaged to conduct the trial.
High purity alumina recovery
Platina has previously demonstrated that it could extract high purity alumina from clarified leach solutions produced from the recovery of scandium in a HPAL plant. However, recoveries were low.
An alternative process technology will now be trialled to investigate whether Platina can achieve better recoveries of the aluminium which will be converted into high purity alumina, which has a premium value and is used to manufacture sapphire glass and lithium-ion-battery separators.
Platina managing director, Corey Nolan, said emerging technologies promised to make the most of the company’s scandium project.
He added: “The aim of the trials is to ensure we develop a project that utilises all the high-value metals available in the deposit.
“Vat leaching is smaller scale and is expected to be a far lower cost and could provide scandium to the market for product development.
“In the future, as the scandium market gets larger, HPAL processing could then be implemented, and improved recoveries of scandium, nickel and cobalt as well as an alumina by-product will enhance revenue streams significantly and offset the higher capital costs of the technology.”