Special report: Protean Energy has upgraded its vanadium and uranium resource in Korea and is now looking to test the remaining 60 per cent of the Daejon shale deposit.

The Korean-focused vanadium producer (ASX:POW) now has a combined interim mineral resource estimate of 37.1 million tonnes (Mt) at 3,000 parts per million (ppm) of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) and 120 ppm of the uranium compound triuranium octoxide (U3O8).

It works out to be 248 million pounds of V2O5 and 10 million pounds of U3O8.

The maiden resource estimate in 2013 was a combined 14.7 Mt, with 17.3 million pounds of V2O5.

The 2018 interim resource estimate follows phase one of an assaying program and p-XRF calibration over about 40 per cent of the Daejon strike length.

Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (p-XRF) is a technique that measures chemical composition by shooting X-rays towards a target, causing the atoms to emit “fluorescent” X-rays.

Strike extent of the 2018 mineral resource estimate. Pic: Protean

The drillhole spacing ranged from 40m to 275m spaced sections, and from 40 to 220 m along a section. The primary search used a radius of 250 m along strike and down dip, and a search of 40 m across strike, with a restriction on the number of samples so that a minimum of two drillholes were required to inform the estimate.

Protean also found another black shale horizon from the existing geological data which is expected to host additional vanadium mineralization.

Protean says the Daejon deposit is similar to Chinese “stone coal” deposits which produced almost half of the world’s vanadium last year.

Chinese stone coal deposits can be beneficiated through magnetic and flotation techniques, which on average upgrade the ore by up to 300 per cent.

In the mining industry beneficiation is any process that improves (benefits) the economic value of the ore which results in a higher grade product, or concentrate, and a waste stream.

Protean’s South Korean vanadium projects. Pic: Protean

The next steps involve finalisation phase two p-XRF assay over the remaining 60 per cent of the known 8.3km strike.

That will allow the company to estimate a mineral resource over the whole Chubu shale area that’s within their tenements, and investigate what beneficiation pathways — a metallurgical term for improving the ore — they may use.