Australia

Australian Vanadium Project

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Overview

Mine TypeOpen Pit
StagePermitting
Commodities
  • Vanadium
  • Ferrotitanium
  • Titanium
Mining Method
  • Truck & Shovel / Loader
Mine Life25 years (as of Jan 1, 2022)
ShapshotIn February 2024, Australian Vanadium Limited (AVL) achieved a significant milestone in its vanadium development strategy by successfully completing a merger with Technology Metals Australia (TMT). The merger integrates the adjacent ore bodies of AVL and TMT into a unified project, creating one of the world's largest and most advanced vanadium producers. AVL has enlisted Wood Group to conduct an optimized feasibility study. The study, expected to deliver its first phase by mid-2024, aims to develop mining and processing schedules, minimize costs, and maximize returns.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
Australian Vanadium Ltd. 100 % Indirect
The Australian Vanadium Project is held 100% by Australian Vanadium Limited, an Australian listed company.

Contractors

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Deposit type

  • Intrusion related

Summary:

The planned minesite at the Australian Vanadium Project lies within the Gabanintha and Porlell Archaean greenstone sequence orientated approximately northwest-southeast, adjacent to the Meekatharra greenstone belt in the Murchison Province.

The geology of the Gabanintha formation is a layered greenstone sequence of ultramafics, gabbros and dolerites/amphibolites, felsic tuffs, basalts and banded iron and cherts. The sequence above is from stratigraphic low to high. Regional granitoid batholith intrusions surround the greenstone rocks.

The deposit is comparable to the Windimurra vanadium deposit and the Barrambie vanadium titanium deposit located 140 km south and 80 km southeast of Gabanintha respectively. The mineral deposit consists of a basal massive high-grade vanadium bearing magnetite zone (10 to 15 m in true thickness), overlain by up to five low-grade magnetite banded gabbro units between 5 and 30 m thick separated by thin (<0.3% V2O5) waste gabbro zones. The sequence is overlain in places by a lateritic domain, a transported domain (occasionally mineralised) and a thin barren surface cover domain.

The north-northwest striking deposit is affected by a number of regional scale faults which offset the entire deposit, breaking the deposit into a series of kilometre scale blocks. The larger blocks show relatively little signs of internal deformation, with strong consistency in the layering being visible in drilling and over long distances between drillholes.

The mineralisation is hosted within altered gabbros and is easy to visually identify by the magnetite/martite content. The main massive magnetite high-grade unit shows consistent thickness and grade along strike and down dip and has a clearly defined sharp boundary. The lower grade disseminated magnetite bands also show good continuity, but the boundaries are occasionally less easy to identify visually as they are more diffuse over a metre or so.

Locally the mineralisation is massive or bands of disseminated vanadiferous titano-magnetite hosted within the gabbro. The mineralised package dips moderately to steeply to the west and is capped by Archaean acid volcanics and metasediments. The footwall is a talc carbonate altered ultramafic unit.

The host sequence is disrupted by late-stage dolerite and granite dykes and occasional east and northeast to southwest trending faults with apparent minor offsets. The mineralisation ranges in thickness from several metres to up to 20 to 30m in thickness.

The oxidized and partially oxidised weathering surface extends 40 to 80m below surface and the magnetite in the oxide zone is usually altered to Martite.

Dimensions
The massive magnetite/martite unit strikes approximately 14 km, is stratiform and ranges in thickness from less than 10m to over 20m true thickness. The low grade mineralised units are sub-parallel to the high grade zone, and also vary in thickness from less than 10m to over 20m. All of the units dip moderately to steeply towards the west, with the exception of two predominantly alluvial units (domains 7 and 8) and a laterite unit (domain 6) which are flat lying.

All units outcrop at surface, but the low grade units are difficult to locate as they are more weathered and have a less prominent surface expression than the high grade unit. The high and low grade units are currently interpreted to have a depth extent of at least approximately 250m below surface. Mineralisation is currently open along strike and at depth.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

  • Truck & Shovel / Loader

Summary:

The mining method selected is a conventional open pit truck and shovel approach. It is assumed that all material to be mined will require blasting to some degree, with reduced powder factors used for the weathered zones. Ore and surrounding waste are assumed to be blasted on 5 metre bench heights and mined in 2.5 metre high flitches using a backhoe excavator. Bulk waste will be blasted at 10m heights. Pit ramps are designed at a 10% gradient and 31 m wide, except for lower pit levels where the ramp reduces to 16 m wide. This will be adequate for haul trucks of up to a 150 tonne payload to be utilised.

Mining at the Project will be from a series of open pits that extends for 7,250m along strike, consisting of a large pit in the north with a length of approximately 3,000m, and then two smaller pits to the south of approximately 1,300m in length. There are two mining areas that have been defined by Inferred material and therefore do not form part of the Ore Reserve but are included at the end of the mine plan. This comprises a pushback to the southern Reserve pit and a small standalone pit between the central and southern Reserve pits. A small amount of Indicated material (<200kt) within the “Inferred” pits has been classified as Inferred material for the purposes of reporting.

The mining sequence is primarily driven by the requirement to maintain a consistent blend of weathered and fresh ore types to the processing plant. Mining commences in the southern pits due to fresh ore being closer to surface, which allows the required blend to be attained sooner. Each southern pit is divided into a low strip starter stage and a subsequent internal and/or pushback stages to further expedite the early access to high recovery fresh ore. The northern pit is divided in a total of five stages, to balance strip ratio and access ore quickly. A relationship between magnetic susceptibility and iron grade has been established to control the delivery of acceptable material to the CMB plant (i.e., recovery and deleterious contaminants) to ensure consistent plant performance.

Ore will be hauled from the pits either directly to the run-of-mine (ROM) pad, or to long-term stockpiles to facilitate the required blend to the CMB plant over the course of the mine life. The longterm stockpiles are predominantly low recovery and/or low mass yield ore and Inferred Resources. Mine waste rock will be hauled to three main storage facilities to the northwest, east and southeast of the open pit area. The sub-grade ore, including the banded and disseminated ore zones, are classified as waste for the purposes of the BFS. However, it is also assumed this material will be placed in demarcated areas of the waste rock storage facilities so that it can be identified and recovered in the future should it become economic to do so.

This pre-production mining is required to provide:
• material and time for the construction of the ROM Pad;
• material and time for the construction of mine haul roads;
• material and time for the construction of the first lift of the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF);
• sufficient ore on stockpile to allow for the targeted blend to be met from start-up.

The rate of mining averages approximately 12.6 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) for the first 5 years of the Project. Through Year 6 to Year 9 it increases to an average of approximately 20.3 Mtpa, before reducing to 16.0 Mtpa in Year 10 and then steadily reducing through to the end of the mine life in Year 24. This is followed by approximately 2 years of processing from stockpiled material.

Two excavators working on double shift will be utilised for the duration of the mine life, to ensure sufficient material blending can be maintained from the working faces. It is assumed that all material to be mined will require blasting to some degree, with reduced powder factors used for the weathered zones. Ore and surrounding waste are assumed to be blasted on 5 metre bench heights and mined in 2.5 metre high flitches. Bulk waste will be blasted at 10m bench heights.

A Life of Mine (LOM) production schedule was created for the Project. It is in monthly periods for the pre-production period and the first two years of production. Quarters were then used from Year 3 to Year 5 and then annual periods to the end of LOM. Mining occurs over 24 years with Years 25 and 26 feeding from long-term stockpiles.

Ore is classified as:
• V2O5 = 0.7% – this value is higher than the economic breakeven cut-off for the deposit and was utilised in consideration of the metallurgical uncertainty around mass recovery and concentrate quality for vanadium grades less than this value.
• Mineralised Domain 10 and 2 – on the basis that the majority of the metallurgical test work has been carried out in these zones.

Mine plan utilises the lower strip ratio southern pits to reduce total mining requirements in the early years to maximise the economics. However, the requirement to blend feed to the process plant to maintain a relatively consistent concentrate production rate requires that multiple mining areas are open. Hence the strip ratio increases through Year 6 to Year 8 as the high strip ratio pits come on line.

Low recovery and/or low mass yield ore and Inferred material is stockpiled adjacent to the ROM pad and rehandled to the plant as required. Inferred material is mined over the entire mine life, but is only fed to the plant from Year 19.

Mine waste is dumped to Waste Storage Facilities (WSF) to the east and north-west of the pits. The north-west WSF is adjacent to the tailings storage facility (TSF). As such, waste trucked here will provide construction material for the TSF and will become an integrated landform with this facility at mine closure.

The sub-grade and mineralised waste resources are currently treated as waste material and stored within the WSF. It is assumed that operationally this material will be identified and stockpiled within discrete parts of the WSF.

The maximum design capacity of the CMB circuit is 1.6 Mtpa but the actual feed rate will be variable as it depends on the overall mass yield of the feed blend. The output is targeted to a maximum of 900,000 tonnes (dry basis) of concentrate. Input of ore is greater when lower and medium recovery ore is processed and mined, and less when higher recovery material is processed. As the ramp-up potential in the CMB circuit is greater than the ramp-up in the down-stream processing plant, there is surplus CMB capacity over the first two years of production. Therefore, lower mass yield material can be fed during this period if required with the processing plant feed ramp-up requirement still being met. The scheduling process targeted a consistent mass yield through the CMB and achieved an average of 57.3% mass yield with year-on-year variation of less than 5% through to Year 21. Year 21 has a high mass yield at 64.3% (hence low CMB feed rate), with the final year (Year 26) having a low of 44.7% mass yield as the final stockpiles are drawn down.

Comminution

Crushers and Mills

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Processing

  • Pyrometallurgical plant / circuit
  • Sulfuric acid (reagent)
  • Water leach
  • Flotation
  • Magnetic separation
  • Rotary kiln & Electric furnace
  • Roasting

Summary:

The process flowsheet is divided into two sections with mining and concentrating at the Project site near Meekatharra and the refining to V2O5 at the process plant at Tenindewa near Geraldton. These sites are referred to as the Crushing, Milling and Beneficiation plant (CMB) and the Processing Plant respectively.

The metallurgical processes include:
• Beneficiation circuit - crushing, grinding, magnetic separation and reverse flotation to generate a 1.39% V2O5 concentrate;
• Refining circuit - pelletisation, roasting, grinding, water leaching, desilication, ammonium metavanadate (AMV) precipitation, deammoniation and flaking to produce a >98.5% V2O5 vanadium product and a 54-55% iron co product (leached calcine).

Processing Plant
Concentrate is transported to the process plant from the CMB plant by road train where it is fed directly to feed bins or stockpiled. The concentrate is mixed with a binder and soda ash before being homogenised and pelletised. The pellets are fed to the grate kiln, where they undergo a sequence of drying stages and pre-heating followed by roasting in a rotary kiln. The roasted pellets are cooled and quenched, with off-gasses directed back to the preheating sections of the kiln. The pellets are partially broken in the quench mill, which aids subsequent water leaching in a rotating drum.

The slurry is filtered, with the pregnant leach solution (PLS) directed to the precipitation circuit and the solids to the heap-wash pads. The precipitation circuit includes a desilication section, where dissolved silica is removed, followed by the precipitation section, where vanadium is recovered from the PLS as ammonium metavanadate. The final stages are de-ammoniation and fusion, where the ammonium metavanadate is converted into vanadium pentoxide flakes for packaging and transport to market.

The semi-leached FeTi coproduct is then stacked and washed on lined pads to extract remaining soluble vanadium. This leachate is returned to the leach circuit and the clean FeTi coproduct is loaded onto road trains for transport to port.

Recoveries & Grades:

CommodityParameterAvg. LOM
V2O5 Recovery Rate, % 66.8
V2O5 Head Grade, % 1.09

Production

CommodityProductUnitsAvg. AnnualLOM
V2O5 Flake kt 11281
Ferrotitanium Concentrate kt 895

Operational metrics

Metrics
Annual mining rate 12.6 Mt *
Annual production capacity 900,000 dmt of ferrotitanium concentrate *
Annual processing capacity 1.6 Mt *
Stripping / waste ratio 7.6 *
Waste tonnes, LOM 296,524 kt *
Ore tonnes mined, LOM 39,157 kt *
Total tonnes mined, LOM 335,680 kt *
* According to 2022 study.

Production Costs

CommodityUnitsAverage
Credits (by-product) V2O5 USD 00
C1 cash costs (sold) V2O5 USD 0000000
C2 total cash costs V2O5 USD 0000000
C3 fully allocated costs V2O5 USD 0000000
Assumed price Ferrotitanium USD 000
Assumed price V2O5 USD 000
* According to 2022 study / presentation.
Net of By-Product.

Project Costs

MetricsUnitsLOM Total
Initial CapEx $M USD 462
EBITDA (LOM) $M USD 3,180
Net Income (LOM) $M USD 1,600
Pre-tax NPV @ 7.5% $M USD 600
After-tax NPV @ 7.5% $M USD 365
Pre-tax IRR, % 20.6
Pre-tax payback period, years 7.3

Heavy Mobile Equipment

HME TypeSizeQuantityLeased or
Contractor
Excavator 2 Leased
Truck (haul) 150 t Leased

Personnel

Mine Management

Source Source
Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
CEO Graham Arvidson LinkedIn Jan 16, 2024
Chief Operating Officer Todd Richardson LinkedIn Jan 16, 2024
Consultant - Recovery Methods Brian McNab LinkedIn Apr 6, 2022
Technical Services Manager Nigel Dilkes LinkedIn Jan 16, 2024

Total WorkforceYear
240 2020

Aerial view:

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