Cyclone Metals rocking it as test work proves it can easily produce a world-class DR iron ore magnetite concentrate
Special Report: Cyclone Metals has ripped past a major milestone after metallurgical test work on ore from its Block 103 ‘Iron Bear’ magnetite project produced a world-class direct reduction magnetite concentrate grading 70.6% iron.
This comes just two weeks after testing successfully produced a high-grade blast furnace (BF) magnetite concentrate grading 68.7% iron with very low deleterious elements and silica below 3.5%.
Cyclone Metals (ASX:CLE) noted that iron ore concentrate at this grade commanded a market price of US$159/t under cost and freight terms to China (meaning the seller is responsible for the costs involved in transporting ore to the destination port) – a US$25/t premium above the 62% iron benchmark.
Along with very high recoveries of >97%, this bodes well for future development of its Iron Bear project and its resource of 7.2Bt grading 29% iron (18.9% magnetic iron) in Canada’s Labrador Trough.
High-grade magnetite concentrates are prized for their use in low emissions steelmaking and are likely to become increasingly attractive due to increasing carbon taxes and structurally higher energy costs.
CLE has now successfully supplemented its previous testing, producing a world-class direct reduction (DR) magnetite concentrate grading 70.6% iron with very low deleterious elements and silica below 1.2%, with very high recoveries of over 80%.
This was achieved by simply adding a reverse flotation step to the Iron Bear BF concentrate.
Notably, the test work has allowed the company to define and calibrate the optimum process flow sheet and associated mass and energy balances, which will flow into the pilot plant design and scoping study that are currently underway.
The current estimated market price for this type of DR magnetite concentrate is US$167/t CFR China, which represents a premium of US$30/t above the 62% iron benchmark.
The company plans to commence production of bulk BF and DR magnetite concentrates using an industrial grade pilot plant next week.
“We have achieved another very exciting milestone in the development of our flagship Iron Bear project by demonstrating that we can easily produce a world-class magnetite DR concentrate grading 70.6% iron, with ultra-low silica and no deleterious elements,” CLE chief executive officer Paul Berend said.
“If we can demonstrate that our DR concentrate is a good source material to produce DR grade pellets, then we will be able to provide European steel producers with a realistic solution to reduce the carbon footprint of their existing blast furnace-based steel mills.
“We still have months of test work ahead of us to conclusively demonstrate this – but we will be able to provide steel mills with large bulk samples of both products as early as Q1 next year. This should enable us to start meaningful JV discussions.”
CLE adds that it is on track to achieve its key Strategy on a Page (SOAP) operational milestones planned for 2023.
While some elements of milestone 5 (mineral resource upgrade) might be delayed until February 2024, the design of the pilot plant (milestone 7) and delivery of bulk samples (milestone 6) are running ahead of schedule.
Achieving milestone 4 is significant as it demonstrates that Iron Bear / Block 103 could potentially be one of a handful of iron ore producers with the capability to produce premium DR grade concentrates that could replace less fuel-efficient direct shipping ores.
Concurrently, the company is working on upgrading the mineral resource (milestone 5) in terms of size and quality with a focus on upgrading part of the resource to the higher confidence indicated category, as well as increasing the size of the inferred resource by correlating the high-definition magnetite survey with drill results and applying the appropriate geological constraints.
This article was developed in collaboration with Cyclone Metals, 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.