The program of 40 holes for 1,383 metres delivered significantly high bright white kaolin intersections across the historic kaolin resource.
It showed that more than 65% of the 159 samples collected have a high bright white reflectance value of greater than 80 ISO brightness points), while 20% of samples showed an ultra-bright white (greater than 84 ISO B).
Halloysite is present in 10% of the samples collected with a collection of plus 10% halloysite values clustered within the centre of the deposit.
In addition, the open holes extending the deposit to the south show impressive results with hole MH20AC0039’s composite summary samples of 14 metres of Ultra-Bright White kaolin (from 7 metres) with an average ISO B value of 85.2 and low contaminant values of 0.32% iron oxide and 0.51% titanium dioxide.
A substantial portion of the deposit shows exceptionally low iron contaminant within the bright white kaolin with halloysite levels ideally suited to some high-value markets in specialist coatings and polymers, which opens up a new and potentially significant market opportunity for the company.
Low iron levels are a highly desirable property for coating and polymer applications where the iron causes colour and stability issues.
These iron values found at Mount Hope are for unprocessed mineral (screened at 45 microns) and would be expected to be reduced even further using typical kaolin refining processes.
According to Markets and Markets, the paints and coatings market is projected to grow from US$154 billion in 2019 to US$200 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 5.4% over the forecast period.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market because the developing countries of APAC, such as China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are focusing on the construction of new residential and commercial buildings, and this is expected to increase in the future.
Chip samples from recent drill holes.
Asia-Pacific plastic consumption
Premium grade kaolins for the coatings industry are currently sold at US$500-600/tonne.
The global plastics market was valued at US$568.7 billion in 2019 and is poised to expand at a revenue based CAGR of 3.5% from 2020 to 2027 as plastic consumption increases in the construction, automotive, electrical and electronics industries.
Regulations to decrease gross vehicle weight to improve fuel efficiency and eventually reduce carbon emissions have promoted the use of plastics as a substitute to metals, including aluminium and steel for manufacturing of automotive components.
Asia-Pacific was the largest geographic region in the plastics and polymers market in 2017, accounting for $235 billion or 38.3% share in the market.
China was the largest country in the market in 2017, accounting for $109.0 billion or 17.8% share of the market.
Recent drilling showing white kaolin thickness contours and halloysite content outline.
Diversifying and de-risking
Some areas of the Mount Hope deposit show high levels of halloysite that is similar to the existing resource at Andromeda’s Carey’s Well deposit, part of the Poochera Joint Venture with Minotaur Exploration Ltd (ASX:MEP), which could be selectively mined to supply the ceramics industry.
While the development of the Carey’s Well deposit remains the main focus, the company is now preparing a new mineral resource estimate for Mount Hope with the results anticipated to be released in coming weeks.
Carey’s Well is perfectly suited for the premium ceramic sector, but adding an upgraded resource from Mount Hope which can be sold into a different, yet equally high-value market, would give the company significant diversification and increased value.