ALCORE project update - Refining AlF3 from bauxite
- Engineering firm appointed to design and cost the Engineering Validation Plant ("EV Plant")
- Trade financing proposals suggests the 50,000tpa production plant can be largely financed
- Discussions with governments and agencies are still progressing
- Unexpected strong interest in co-products Corethane and silica fume.
The ALCORE project is the development of bauxite beneficiation and refining technology to produce from bauxite Aluminium Fluoride which is used in aluminium production and in lithium ion batteries. ALCORE will also produce Corethane which is a hydrocarbon that can subsititute for natural gas and will provide energy for the proposed ALCORE production plant.
The current ABx group available cash is A$2.05 million. ABx has unused lines of credit for working capital if required and has no current plans for capital raisings.
1. Engineering Validation Plant ("EV Plant")
ABx has commissioned an engineering, design and costing study by Turnkey Innovative Engineering Pty Ltd for the Engineering Validation Plant (EV Plant) which is the first stage of the ALCORE project, designed to generate large tonnage bulk samples of the products that will be tested and validated by ALCORE's prospective customers, especially for high density Aluminium Fluoride, Corethane and Silica Fume.
Turnkey ("TKIE") is a sophisticated, leading-edge chemical engineering firm that is well regarded because of its recent successful work on new technology for the manufacture of lithium carbonate from a brine project in Argentina.
TKIE has agreed to provide in Q1 2018, the engineering report, design and a lump-sum quotation for the construction and commissioning of the EV Plant which is to be constructed in mid 2018.
The chemical process, which was patented on 5th June 2017, has been established in Turnkey's chemical engineering systems and technical officers are now reviewing the plant equipment schedules and the experience of the technologists who developed the ALCORE process.
2. Financing Plans
Financing plans are scheduled to be finalised and announced in March 2018 once the EV Plant engineering report has been received and assessed.
ABx has been approached by three parties involved in the Aluminium Fluoride industry to discuss future sales. All three are interested in providing finance for the Stage 2 construction of the 50,000 tonne per year production plant, subject to offtake agreements. One has expressed interest in providing part-finance for the Stage 1 EV Plant, should it be required.
A third party is seeking access to the EV Plant for the purification of graphite on terms that may supply one-third of the cost of the EV Plant during its 12 to 18 months of testwork.
Discussions are continuing with Federal and State Government ministries and with a government authority. These discussions will continue into 2018.
3. Expressions of Interest in Coproducts Corethane and Silica Fume
ABx has been approached by two major companies seeking negotiations for access to two of the major co-products from the ALCORE production plant, namely Corethane and Silica Fume. In addition, ABx has made presentations to two other possible customers for Corethane and to one large electricity generation company with spare gas turbine capacity.
Corethane is a high-efficiency fuel for gas turbine electricity generators and can also be used to provide high-energy, low emission heat for several industrial applications. It can be used as a chemical reductant in the manufacture of metals, including ultra-pure silicon metal for electronics.
Silica Fume is a rapidly growing industry, being an amorphous, micro-fine form of silica (SiO2) that is increasingly used in making high strength concrete (complementing ABx's existing marketing of its cement-grade bauxite) and CO2-free geopolymer cements. Silica fume from the ALCORE process is an ultra-pure micron-sized powder with many other applications, including high purity glass, silicon metal and photovoltaic solar panels.
4. Expressions of Interest in Gas Turbine Electricity Production using Corethane
ALCORE officers and ABx management are in discussions with a state-of-the-art developer of robust gas turbines that are already generating electricity from fuels far less refined than Corethane. Robust turbine technology would allow ALCORE's production plant to make its own electricity immediately if required, thus minimising start-up risks.
ABx CEO, Ian Levy said; "This is an exciting time for ABx's business development. We are pushing ahead on all fronts as hard as possible and we are sincerely grateful for the offers for funds from supportive shareholders who appreciate the massive value addition to our normal bauxite business that will arise from an ALCORE development.
"However, there are a lot of moving parts yet to be finalised and ABx will remain frugal with shareholders' funds until the ABx Board of Directors is satisfied that we have arrived at the best possible deal for our supportive shareholders.
Focus on sales: "In the short-term, sales of bauxite remains our highest priority, because there are significant opportunities arising in the traditional bauxite markets during 2018 when many major bauxite supply contracts are up for renewal. Considerable progress is also being made on the feasibility study for the Binjour project and staff have conducted significant R&D laboratory work on the special low-iron bauxite from ABx's Penrose project in NSW, 90km inland from Port Kembla.
"We should acknowledge the ability of our staff and Directors to remain focussed on the main game for our shareholders whilst also evaluating the exciting new medium-term developments. We can walk and chew gum at the same time without tripping up or breaking a tooth."
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About Australian Bauxite Ltd
Australian Bauxite Limited (ABx) (ASX:ABX) has its first bauxite mine in Tasmania and holds the core of the Eastern Australian Bauxite Province. ABx's 22 bauxite tenements in Queensland, New South Wales & Tasmania exceed 1,975 km2 and were selected for (1) good quality bauxite; (2) near infrastructure connected to export ports; & (3) free of socio-environmental constraints. All tenements are 100% owned, unencumbered & free of third-party royalties. ABx's discovery rate is increasing as knowledge, technology & expertise grows.
The Company's bauxite is high quality gibbsite trihydrate (THA) bauxite that can be processed into alumina at low temperature.
ABx has declared large Mineral Resources at Inverell & Guyra in northern NSW, Taralga in southern NSW, Binjour in central QLD & in Tasmania, confirming that ABx has discovered significant bauxite deposits including some of outstandingly high quality.
At Bald Hill near Campbell Town, Tasmania, the Company's first bauxite mine commenced operations in December 2014 – the first new Australian bauxite mine for more than 35 years. ABx has created significant bauxite developments in 3 states - Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Its bauxite deposits are favourably located for direct shipping of bauxite to both local and export customers.
ABx endorses best practices on agricultural land, strives to leave land and environment better than we find it. We only operate where welcomed.
Australian Bauxite Ltd