WA Kaolin Ltd says building works have commenced at its wholly owned Wickepin kaolin project, in Western Australia, as the ASX-listed company looks to start up production from a “world-leading” kaolin processing plant.
AUSPAN, one of Australia’s leading steel frame construction companies, has been contracted to carry out the Stage 1 Building Structural Design and Construction at the project. The company has now mobilised to site to commence its work program with a team of around 20 ramping up over coming weeks.
The concrete batching plant was delivered to site on January 6, and work has commenced on the footings and part of the slab being laid ahead of the plant build, WA Kaolin said.
A 2020 definitive feasibility study completed by BDB Process on the Wickepin kaolin project showed the potential for the project to ramp up to 400,000 t/y through the development of the processing plant and extraction of the 30.5 Mt of high-grade premium kaolinised granite reserves within the existing Mining Lease.
The company plans to use its proprietary dry K99 processing method on ore from the two existing open-pit deposits at Wickepin. This involves drying and beneficiation through physical separation with no chemicals required. The simple and proven process is already operating on a small-scale commercial basis in Kwinana where the company operates a small plant, WA Kaolin says.
Andrew Sorensen, WA Kaolin CEO said: “Our 2021 work program has already commenced in earnest with the arrival of the crew and equipment to proceed with the initial building works of the kaolin production plant. At this point, we are on track to commence the build in February and will provide regular updates to the market as we proceed.”
Ben Richardson, General Manager, AUSPAN, added: “Mobilisation is well under way and construction on site is ramping up following the Christmas break. Footings are almost complete and we will be ramping up to a construction team of approximately 25 by early February.
“It is exciting to be working with WA Kaolin on this world-leading Kaolin processing plant. With approximately 100 t of structural steel already delivered to site, the landscape is about to change with the commencement of structural steel installation.”
WA Kaolin’s plan is to increase production at Wickepin to 400,000 t/y by 2023 with further modular increases to capacity to be implemented in tune with market demand.