Tag Archives: Australian Vanadium

AVL examining ‘green hydrogen’ potential for vanadium project

Australian Vanadium is making plans to incorporate “green hydrogen” into its mine operations in Western Australia as part of a carbon emission reduction strategy.

Vincent Algar, Managing Director of Australian Vanadium, thinks the use of green hydrogen could allow the company to reduce its carbon footprint and leverage both the economical and environmental benefits of what is a growing market.

“The green steel opportunity is one that Western Australia should particularly embrace, with the potential for many jobs to be created and a globally competitive steel industry,” he said. “This strategy can assist with environmental approvals and in attracting finance partners with an environmental, social and corporate governance focus, for AVL to bring the Australian vanadium project into production.”

The Australian vanadium project is around 40 km south-east of Meekatharra and 740 km north-east of Perth. The proposed project includes open-pit mining, crushing, milling and beneficiation at the Meekatharra site and a processing plant for final conversion to high-quality vanadium pentoxide for use in steel, specialty alloys and battery markets, to be located at a site at Tenindewa, between Mullewa and Geraldton.

The company’s strategy to incorporate hydrogen into the project includes the following areas:

  • Introducing a percentage of green hydrogen into the natural gas feed for the processing plant. The purpose of this is to reduce carbon emissions. This will be analysed fully in the company’s bankable feasibility study;
  • Offtake of ammonia from green hydrogen production for use in the final vanadium precipitation step of processing. The CSIRO is working on an ARENA (the Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency) funded project to develop a production process that does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Powering mine site or haulage vehicles to move material from the mine site to the processing plant with green hydrogen. Hydrogen generation could be undertaken at the mine site and at the processing plant for refuelling. “This is a new area of development for Australia and will need to be fully assessed for its financial implications,” the company said, adding that it is keen to work with the federal and state governments and haulage companies who have a forward plan for this technology;
  • The use of green hydrogen for steel production in the ore reduction step. AVL is seeking partnerships with companies interested in this area as it would be a “noble and efficient use” for the Fe-Ti co-product that the company plans to produce, it said; and
  • Through AVL’s 100% owned subsidiary, VSUN Energy, integrating hydrogen electrolysers in plant design, combined with energy storage utilising vanadium redox flow battery technology. To support the Government of Western Australia’s plans for a green hydrogen economy, AVL has submitted a formal response to the request for expressions of interest for the Oakajee Strategic Industrial Area Renewable Energy Strategy. “Having a project located in the Mid-West region, with a variety of ways for AVL to incorporate green hydrogen means that the company is well-positioned to leverage the emerging hydrogen economy and its financial and environmental benefits,” it said.

AVL says its project is currently one of the highest-grade vanadium projects being advanced globally with 208.2 Mt at 0.74% V₂O₅, containing a high-grade zone of 87.9 Mt at 1.06% V₂O₅, reported in compliance with the JORC Code 2012.

Westgold helps Australian Vanadium with water, road access in WA

Australian Vanadium Ltd and Westgold Resources have signed a co-operation agreement that could see surplus water from operations at the Meekatharra asset used at the Australian Vanadium project in Western Australia.

Westgold’s Meekatharra operations comprise several active and inactive mines south of Meekatharra, 25 km to the west of the Australian Vanadium project, with continuous inflows into a number of these active and inactive pits and underground mines leading to the generation of significant amounts of surplus water. This water can be utilised in processing Australian Vanadium’s vanadium ore, the Australian Vanadium said.

In addition to the water access, the agreement provides a platform for “friendly collaboration” over access and the use of new and existing roads to move ore, materials and products within the companies’ tenements, Australian Vanadium added.

The Australian Vanadium project is currently one of the highest-grade vanadium projects being advanced globally, according to the company, with 208.2 Mt at 0.74% V₂O₅, containing a high-grade zone of 87.9 Mt at 1.06% V₂O₅ reported in compliance with the JORC Code 2012.

A December 2018 prefeasibility study laid out plans for an open-pit operation, with a crushing, milling and beneficiation plant, and refining plant for final conversion and sale of high-quality vanadium pentoxide.

Vincent Algar, Australian Vanadium’s Managing Director, said securing access to sufficient quality water resources to use in the mining and beneficiation process was one of the company’s highest priorities. “Access to excess water flowing into Westgold’s pits allows us to progress the project with increasing confidence,” he added.

“Western Australia has limited high-quality water resources, so innovative collaborations such as this agreement with Westgold can assist both the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) and DWER (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation) with their water management and environmental custodianship, whilst allowing this critical project to progress.”

The key terms of the agreement are:

  • Westgold will not object to AVL’s proposed Miscellaneous Licence applications to enable Australian Vanadium to access, extract and establish infrastructure for pumping and relocation of water from one of the Reedy’s location open pits to the company’s desired location;
  • Any works will be undertaken at AVL’s cost and risk;
  • Access to Westgold and Australian Vanadium’s access roads will be permitted on a reciprocal basis;
  • Co-operation will be undertaken in good faith and in a timely manner;
  • A formal access agreement to secure Australian Vanadium’s Miscellaneous Licences and associated pumping infrastructure can be established, if required; and
  • The letter of agreement is set to progress to a formal agreement within three years, otherwise the agreement expires.

Australian Vanadium teams up with Metso for test work

Australian Vanadium has announced the selection of Metso for the next phase of definitive feasibility study pilot testing at its Australian Vanadium project.

Metso was chosen because of its world-renowned expertise in Grate Kiln (GK) processing solutions, the ASX-listed company said.

“AVL and Metso are committed to working together to develop an improved thermal processing solution involving pelletising of the vanadium rich iron concentrate produced at the Australian Vanadium project,” Australian Vanadium said.

The solution will involve pelletising the concentrate and processing it through a GK system. Pelletising has been used previously in Europe and China for the processing of primary vanadium-titanium-iron ores, with the benefits including:
• Improved roasting reaction;
• Minimal dusting, and;
• Reduced build-up of residues within the kiln.

Bench-scale tests have already been completed by the company on its pelletised vanadium-rich iron concentrate and have confirmed that pelletised concentrate roasting offers a substantial advantage to the traditional rotary kiln technology currently employed by all primary vanadium producers, AVL said.

AVL’s pelletised roasting tests have shown vanadium extraction results averaging 95.4%, versus a rotary kiln extraction of 85-88%, which is typical of standard vanadium roasting technologies, according to the company.

The next phase calls for pilot scale testing to simulate and optimise the GK process.

“The GK system is a combination of a travelling grate furnace for pre-processing with a rotary kiln for final roasting,” AVL said. “The feed concentrate is formed into pellets of a particular size that are well-suited for the process. The pellets are then loaded onto the traveling grate and pass through multiple furnace heating zones where progressively hotter and hotter gases from the kiln are forced through the bed of pellets.”

This process accomplishes gradual and controlled drying and preheating of the pellets while recouping much of the energy from the hot kiln exhaust gases, according to the company.

The rotary kiln is then dedicated to the final roasting of the pellets after they’ve been dried and preheated and can be controlled independently to achieve thermal profiles which result in higher levels of vanadium extraction.

AVL said: “Although the GK technology is more commonly used for indurating iron ore pellets, it has also been successfully applied to similar roasting applications because of its unique ability to improve upon conventional rotary kiln processing.”

The pilot scale testing will be conducted at Metso’s Pyro Technology laboratory located in Danville, Pennsylvania, USA, where over 120 GK testing programs have previously been performed, according to the company.

Todd Richardson, AVL’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Vanadium roasting technology has not changed much since the 1930s, when cement kiln technology was adapted for salt roasting vanadium bearing ores. Since that time, the technology has gone largely unchanged.

“By partnering with Metso, a world leader in pyrometallurgical processing, AVL is confident that the roasting process can be greatly improved.”