Highlights: Australian Bauxite's ongoing R&D and bauxite beneficiation program is bearing fruit.
- Engineering and cost study completed on 28 February for the Stage 1 ("EV Plant") has been accepted by the Board of Directors of Australian Bauxite Limited
- Cost estimate of Stage 1 has reduced by more than 50% to between $5.5 and $6.5 million depending on success rates and testing of co-products including Corethane and/or graphite
- Further cost reductions are possible and are being pursued aggressively
- Cost reductions arose from:
1. Simplification of the technology to make it robust (patent appln 5th June 2017)
2. Lower cost of modern high-technology alloys that suit the reagents being used
3. Suppliers routinely manufacture the reactors used in ALCORE
Now that an updated design and budget has been achieved, and subject to regulatory, statutory and shareholder approvals as required, the following is being undertaken:
- Discussions with governments and agencies are progressing at the highest levels
- Companies that showed strong interest in both the Aluminium Fluoride and the main coproducts Corethane and silica fume will be consulted
- $1 million of funding has already been promised by a party that will provide services to ALCORE, subject to acceptance of the budget which is based on maximum cost-efficiency
- Parties interested in investing in and/or supporting ALCORE will be consulted with a view to determining the optimum investment structure
- An advisory committee will be assembled to recommend the investment structure terms, with a priority to avoid significant capital raising by ABx which has always been ABx policy
- The Stage 1 project has commenced with quotations for construction and securing the site in Berkeley Vale, NSW and the required approvals to do this Stage 1 testwork
- Funding arrangements for Stage 1 will be finalised by 30 June 2018
- Funding proposals under consideration include an eBOOT method whereby an engineering firm would part-fund Stage 1 evaluations of the ALCORE process and if satisfied, will Build, Own, Operate & Transfer the large bauxite refinery production plant to ALCORE
ABx CEO, Ian Levy said; "ALCORE is looking more exciting at every stage and would increase the profits from our very clean type of bauxite by a factor of 10 to 30 times. It's a game-changer."
The current ABx group available cash is A$1.58 million. ABx has sales revenues pending and unused lines of credit for working capital if required and has no current plans for capital raisings.
1. Stage 1: Engineering Validation Stage ("EV Plant") designed and costed
ABx received its commissioned engineering, design and costing study on schedule on 28 February 2018 for Stage 1 of the ALCORE project, designed to generate bulk samples to be tested and validated by ALCORE's prospective customers for:
a. High density Aluminium Fluoride (AlF3)
b. Corethane (ultra pure hydrocarbon fuel) and
c. Silica Fume.
The Stage 1 EV Plant which is to be constructed in mid-2018 and work has commenced.
The chemical process was patented on 5th June 2017.
2. Financing Plans
Financing plans are to be finalised before the end of the fiscal year 30 June 2018 but $1.2 million has already been offered by sophisticated investors and a party that will supply services to ALCORE, subject to documentation of the final plans, now that the budget has been updated.
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 in 2018 and become quite specific once the Stage 1 process makes its first samples of final products.
ABx presented its plans to the Bell Bay Manufacturing Precinct Sub-committee in Tasmania in December 2017 and that committee has expressed support for the ALCORE development to government authorities.
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 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.
OTHER BUSINESS MATTERS
ABx remains focussed on its bauxite project businesses.
Emphasis on bauxite sales continues for ABx
In the short-term, sales of bauxite remains ABx's highest priority and there are significant opportunities arising in the traditional bauxite markets during 2018 when many major bauxite supply contracts are up for renewal and political instability in other countries are reminding customers of Australia's reputation for reliable supply.
Binjour Project in QLD Under Economic Assessment
Considerable progress is also being made on the feasibility study for the Binjour project located inland from Port of Bundaberg, central Queensland. Three major bulk samples were collected in December 2017 and physico-chemical tests were conducted in 5 laboratories in Queensland, Western Australia and India. And independent expert's report on the characterisation of Binjour bauxite was produced for presentations to prospective customers.
Research and Development on White Bauxite From Penrose Quarry
Staff have conducted significant R&D laboratory work on the special low-iron bauxite from ABx's Penrose project in NSW, located 90km inland from Port Kembla. A prospective customer has visited Australia to progress a business plan for exploiting this project on a low-tonnage, high value basis which would be an ideal development for this project located in a state owned pine plantation where harvesting will commence in the next few years.
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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.
CEO and MD
Australian Bauxite Limited