Australian Strategic Materials Limited’s (ASM) Korean research and development partner ZironTech has produced about 1 kilogram of neodymium metal alloy in the laboratory from its patented reduction process.
This completes preliminary work on the metallisation of neodymium oxide feed with assaying confirming an intermediate neodymium (87%) alloy ingot.
It is the first stage of the production of critical metals used in a range of sustainable technologies and new manufacturing industries such as renewable energy and electric vehicle production.
Targeting less energy use
In this work, the JV is targeting 45% less energy use in its rare earth metallisation process than the current industrial process.
The company’s managing director David Woodall said: “This is a major milestone in ASM’s integrated strategy that includes clean metal production for all products from the development of the Dubbo Project in Central West NSW.”
Refining work continues
ASM and its Korean JV partner will continue to progress the innovative low-emission, high-purity metal refining technology to produce metals of zirconium, titanium, rare earths and other critical materials for the renewable energy, speciality alloys and permanent magnet markets.
Commissioning of the electrorefining section of the pilot plant, which will produce a 99.9% neodymium high-purity metal, is planned this month.
Commercial Pilot Plant production of larger quantities of neodymium and praseodymium and other rare earths in metallic form is expected to be complete at the end of July 2020.
Adding value in Australia
Woodall added: “This integration of metal production into ASM’s business is consistent with the Australian Government’s objective of adding value within Australia while ensuring supply security and stability of these critical materials to global and domestic Australian manufacturing sectors.”
ASM and ZironTech continue to make progress with the second phase of their metallisation strategy focusing on producing zirconium metal, which is expected to be completed later this month
The work of the partners is focused on delivering significantly improved economics of its Dubbo project as well as giving it an involvement in the wider commercialisation of breakthrough technology.
Rare earth focus
As such, ASM is focused on producing specialty metals and oxides for advanced technologies.
Alkane is this week holding an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to consider demerging ASM and establishing it as a standalone, ASX listed company.
The meeting will be held via a virtual online platform on Thursday, July 16, at 10 am AWST.
Earlier this month Alkane, which will fully focus on gold with the demerger, reached a new 8-year high of $1.335.