Australian Strategic Materials Limited’s (ASM) Korean R&D partner ZironTech has produced a titanium metal alloy at the JV’s commercial pilot plant and through use of the patented reduction process achieved 45% power saving.
This is the first phase of the development of a low emission, high purity metal refining technology that can be applied to zirconium, titanium, rare earths for permanent magnet alloys.
About 30 kilograms of titanium metal alloy was produced during the commissioning of the commercial pilot plant in South Korea.
In the next phase, the alloy will be used to produce high purity (99.9%) titanium metal via the electro-refining process.
ASM managing director David Woodall said: “This is a significant milestone in the development of our integrated business plan that includes clean metal production from the development of the Dubbo Project in Central West NSW.
“The clean metal technology can be applied to all the products from the Dubbo Project and this has the potential to add significant value to our Australian project, while ensuring supply security and stability of these critical materials to global and domestic Australian manufacturing sectors.”
ASM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alkane Resources Ltd (ASX:ALK) (OTCMKTS:ALKEF), which is progressing the demerger of ASM as a separate listed company, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
To this end, an extraordinary general meeting will be held via a virtual online platform on Thursday, July 16 at 10am AWST (12 noon AEST) seeking shareholder approval for the demerger.
ASM holds Alkane’s rare earths interests, including the Dubbo project and South Korean JV.
Typically, in metal production, energy costs accounted between 30 and 40% of total costs.
The production of the titanium metal alloy utilising 45% less power indicates significant cost benefits to ASM’s integrated business strategy, this will be further optimised as this metallisation program progresses.
ASM’s JV partner is progressing the second phase of its metallisation strategy focusing on the production of zirconium metal in July 2020.
The commissioning of the electro-refining section of the pilot plant, which will produce ultra-high purity metal, is planned later this month.
Further pilot plant runs are planned to produce neodymium, praseodymium and other rare earths in metallic form.
Woodall said: "This production of titanium metal alloy from titanium oxide feed is a first step in the ASM strategy of value-adding to the output from its polymetallic Dubbo Project, with its large in-ground resource of zirconium, rare earth elements (including yttrium), niobium and hafnium.
"ASM’s investment in downstream processing will improve the economics of its Dubbo project, as well as ASM leading the worldwide commercialisation of this breakthrough metallising technology.”