Bright times ahead for Corella Resources after Tampu characterisation studies produce exceptional quality kaolin
Special Report: Corella Resources’ product characterisation study has confirmed the exceptional quality of kaolin sourced from its Tampu project in WA’s Wheatbelt region after producing an extremely pure >99% kaolinite product.
Tampu has a kaolin resource of 24.7Mt, half of which is suitable for use as high-purity alumina (HPA) feedstock.
HPA is used in high-tech applications such as smartphones, LEDs and lithium-ion batteries, and sells for between US$15,000/t-US$25,000/t (A$23,300/t-$A38,850) for the benchmark 99.99% (4N) purity stuff.
Corella Resources’ (ASX:CR9) initial testing has already proven that Tampu mineralisation is suitable for producing a very-high purity 5N (99.999%) HPA suitable for the battery and LED sectors.
The project is the subject of a scoping study which identified two attractive development scenarios for kaolin and HPA.
Under the 200,000tpa kaolin production scenario, the project could generate NPV of $1.18bn and whopping IRR of 78.8%.
The 40,000tpa HPA option is also attractive with estimated NPV and IRR of $4.62bn and 53.8% respectively.
A 760kg bulk sample consolidated from nine drill holes across three areas at Tampu, and tested by First Test Minerals for comprehensive flowsheet and product characterisation, has indicated a simplified flowsheet achieves exceptional kaolin upgrading.
Notably, this does not require centrifuge, bleaching or magnet separation with CR9 noting that the minimal uplift in grade and specification on the basic hydrocyclone circuit does not warrant the cost of the extra equipment.
This not only reduces capex, it also reduces costs in the smaller footprint and the cost of both water and energy whilst reducing the environmental impact.
CR9 adds that a wet refining plant based on drum washer, screens and two-stage hydrocyclones is likely to be a favourable design configuration followed by conventional thickening, pressing and drying.
The uniformly distributed crystalline platy structure of the kaolin product is also expected to have no negative impact on larger scale filter pressing and drying times.
The high quality kaolin product is fully compliant with United States Pharmacopeia (USP), British Pharmacopoeia Heavy Kaolin (BPHK) and European Pharmacopoeia (EP) specifications and is expected to be suitable for diverse markets, including high-grade HPA feed, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agriculture, coating, ceramic and paper industries.
Quartz preliminary testing has also produced a 98.8% SiO2 product using basic screening with density separation testing underway to increase grade to high purity quartz.
CR9 is pursuing the option to start operations in 2024 for test pit and potential DSO in the southern area of the existing Tampu resource to generate revenue and cash flow that will continue through feasibility studies.
Bulk samples from existing reserve drill programs are being prepared to provide to potential customers for DSO offtake testing and discussion.
The company is also releasing the scope of works and flowsheet to two key kaolin process engineering and process mineralogy OEM’s for review and quote for engineering to support the feasibility study.
On the exploration front, CR9 is planning to start in April a sonic and aircore drill program aimed at upgrading part of the existing Tampu inferred and indicated resource to the very high confidence measured category, underpinning 10 years of initial operations to ensure certainty of supply and quality.
This will also provide bulk samples for the two engineering companies to test with their specific equipment.
This article was developed in collaboration with Corella Resources, 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.