- King River Resources’ HPA prefeasibility study has confirmed robust economics and a relatively simple HPA development process.
- HPA is witnessing strong demand from the clean energy sector, owing to its application in LED lighting and as separators in lithium-ion batteries.
- The use of readily available aluminium chemical feedstock allows the HPA production capacity to be scaled to market demand.
Australian explorer King River Resources Limited (ASX:KRR) is vying to become a globally significant producer of 4N (99.99%) High Purity Alumina (HPA), which is witnessing high demand from the clean energy sector.
HPA applications in light-emitting diode (LED) in the lighting market and as separators in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EV) make the product exceptionally critical to the green shift. As a result, HPA demand is expected to increase while its global supplies remain limited.
The Company intends to kick off HPA production initially as the first phase of a more diversified suite of specialty metals including high purity titanium dioxide (TiO₂) and vanadium pentoxide (V₂O₅) products from its wholly owned Speewah deposits in Kimberley, Western Australia.
The HPA project, which is to be sited in the Kwinana industrial area, will use a relatively simple HPA process, which offers a key competitive advantage to the project.
Production capacity can be scaled to market demand
Last year, Source Certain International, earlier known as TSW Analytical, examined the HPA process application to aluminium chemical feedstocks produced from other industrial processes. It helped in simplifying the process flowsheet with the removal of the beneficiation and acid leaching circuits. Furthermore, the use of readily available feedstock meant that HPA production would no longer need a mine development and acid plant, accommodation village, waste dumps, airstrip and haul roads based at Speewah.
Moreover, the process feedstock is sourced from over US$2 billion global aluminium chemicals market while the ARC HPA process reagents are produced as by-products of other chemical industries – offering rich and uninterrupted supply for KRR’s HPA development.
In addition, the modular process flowsheet being relatively simple allows the Company to scale the production capacity to market demand.
High purity HPA a significant upside for KRR
The purity of HPA produced by KRR has been confirmed at ≥4N (99.99%) with total impurities less than 100 ppm. The primary contaminants in the HPA samples include silicon, potassium, iron, sodium, and varying amounts of chromium and niobium.
Three main hydrometallurgical compounds in the staged production of HPA
Source: KRR Update, 16 June 2021
On top of that, independent HPA assay verification using the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Laser Ablation Mass Spectrometry (MS) methods have validated a ≥4N HPA result in in all but one of the five HPA batches checked.
The calcination of HPA product at 1250°C and its subsequent analysis using X-Ray Diffraction have confirmed that all the alumina in the HPA is in the alpha (α) crystal form. Notably, alpha alumina is in high demand from end-users producing sapphire glass and lithium-ion battery separators.
By-product can add a potential revenue stream
The by-product produced from the ARC HPA process witnesses active trade in Australia and globally, with the global market size estimated to be around 150 million tonnes for US$2.2 billion in 2018. The Company indicated that the by-product, used in the powder form in the construction and agricultural industries, enjoys strong growth forecast.
KRR shares were trading at AU$0.027 on 16 July 2021 (AEST 10:33 AM), up by around 4% from its last closing price.