Special report: Vanadium miner and battery investor Protean Energy will fast-track its South Korean mining project after gaining access to a test plant.

Protean (ASX:POW) subsidiary Stonehenge Korea has signed a deal to use a 1.2 tonne/day pilot plant in the central Korean city of Daejeon.

The deal with the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Minerals (KIGAM) also gives access to patents for the processing of vanadium and uranium found in Korea’s unique black shale.

Protean shares gained 14 per cent to 3.3c in early Thursday trade.

The deal is a big step forward for Protean which, via joint venture companies, is developing three vanadium-uranium projects in South Korea as part of a plan to develop vanadium redox flow batteries (VFRBs).

Access to the pilot plant provides a fast-tracked, low-cost way to quickly move Protean’s Daejon exploration project forward.

The plant is 20km from the Daejon project and includes crushing, leaching and solvent extraction circuits to create vanadium pentoxide (V2O­5) — a vital ingredient in VFRBs – as well as yellow cake (U3O8).

The project is a sign of the strong relationship between Protean and the Korean institute.

Protean will be allowed to use the institute’s intellectual property for processing the Daejon-style Korean Ockcheon belt vanadium and uranium bearing black shale mineralisation, and test 36,000 metres of drill cores from the area.

“These agreements reinforce the very strong relationship that has been forged between the Company and KIGAM and the deep significance of the Daejon Vanadium Project for South Korea,” the company said.

“Vanadium supply is key to industry success in South Korea and considered a strategic metal.”

Optimising vanadium extraction

The Korean institute conducted tests from 2012 to 2015 and registered three patents for extraction and production of V2O5 and U3O8.

Protean’s deal with KIGAM is part of a vanadium processing optimisation project from the Daejon black shale, that includes sharing all historical metallurgical and processing testing data.

“Research undertaken in China has enabled the beneficiation of back shale-hosted vanadium and this, in turn, has led to this style of deposit emerging as a substantial source of vanadium supply,” the company said.

The new project will use KIGAM’s existing patents, advanced lab equipment and experienced research manpower including a team of seven senior engineers.

The project will include a study covering:

  • oxidizing roasting conditions of black shale minerals
  • vanadium pressure leaching technology for oxidizing roasting black shale minerals
  • salt roasting conditions for black shale minerals
  • vanadium acid/alkali leaching technology for black shale minerals
  • vanadium separation & purification solvent extraction technology from acid/alkali leachate
  • V2O5 manufacturing technology for separation & purification solution
  • pilot plant design plan


This special report is brought to you by Protean.

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