Picking the gap: Greenvale Energy is fast becoming Australia’s first end-to-end domestic supplier of bitumen
Special Report: Hybrid mining and oil and gas play Greenvale Resources has completed its Licella supercritical water test program at its Alpha project – another milestone in its aim to become Australia’s first domestic end-to-end bitumen binding producer.
Greenvale Energy (ASX:GRV) is looking to fill the gap in the domestic supply of bitumen binding material from torbanite, a ‘kerosene shale’ product that’s distinguished by its high-grade hydrocarbon content.
GRV’s 28Mt Alpha Torbanite project in QLD can produce ~27.7MMboe of torbanite and cannelite – thick crude oil that is favoured for making bitumen – for the +870,000km of roads around Australia.
New testing indicates the potential for the Alpha project to supply high quality bituminous products “of commercial interest” to market.
Bulk samples from the Alpha project have delivered the first indication of bituminous product potential using liquefaction processes.
In a significant milestone for Test Program Four, Greenvale’s technical bitumen advisors,
Technix, in collaboration with PROCOM, have assessed the initial liquefaction bulk samples from PROCOM and separated the remaining solids and the produced oil.
Technix has confirmed that the full range oil separated out from the bulk sample provided by
PROCOM “has very promising properties”.
The asphaltene content of the produced oil extract is higher than that of the standard bitumen at approximately 55% (55.3% heptane insoluble), while the asphaltene content of standard bitumen is varies up to 25%.
With respect to the Australian Standard, the crude extract classification assessed by Technix is close to Class 600 bitumen, with its viscosity at 60C being slightly higher.
Class 600 bitumen refers to a specific grade of bitumen used for road construction and pavement applications. This higher-grade bitumen may attract a premium compared to lower-grade bitumen, such as Class 300.
Greenvale CEO Mark Turner says the news coming from both the Technix and Licella programs is highly positive and moves it ever closer to the delivery of the maiden PFS for the Alpha project.
“It is very exciting to have the first real indication of the potential commercial products that can be produced from the Alpha deposit,” Turner says.
“And while there is some way to go before, we have our first bitumen certified, it is a big step in the right direction – a step towards eventual commercialisation and achieving our goal of becoming Australia’s only end-to-end producer of bituminous products.
“Equipment limitations limited the supercritical density to around 0.2 g/ml, with the high density of around 0.35g/ml being targeted in the Monash University program.
“The results show good promise and directionally correlate with research work by others which indicates further upside in yields and product type.
“Finally, with 9 out of 16 test runs now complete by Monash, I look forward to updating our shareholders early in the New Year with the completion of Test Program Four.”
The second bulk sample will be separated and the oils analysed by Technix. GRV says this will require a more involved separation procedure compared with the toluene-based product already analysed.
PROCOM has recommended distillation at atmospheric pressures and under vacuum to split the oil carrier-derived products.
Analysis of the distillation products will provide insights into the typical production process and allow the evaluation of the heavier and the lighter oils – both of which can be utilised in bitumen product formulations.
Additional analytical tests have been recommended, including TGA on liquid samples to provide information on the oil components within a specific temperature range.
GRV says TGA, Proximate and Ultimate Analysis on the solids will identify any organic materials that may still be present and further characterise the sample.
This article was developed in collaboration with Greenvale Energy, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.