Future Metals says the latest flotation and ore sorting test work for its Panton platinum group metals project in Western Australia represents a mining and processing “breakthrough”.
Results from bulk ore sorting and flotation optimisation and repeatability test work for its Panton project demonstrated a significant de-risking for the future mining and processing of the company’s 6.9 Moz palladium-equivalent JORC resource and provide a credible path towards developing a low capital, high margin PGM-Ni operation, it said.
The company has also commenced scoping study and test work evaluation with PGM downstream processing technology providers.
Previous test work on Panton concentrate has demonstrated recoveries of 99%-plus for a majority of metals contained in the concentrate. These processes produce upgraded metals products for direct sale to refineries, or refining on site, improving payabilities, reducing logistics costs and reducing emissions relative to the smelting process route.
Initial assessment of the Lifezone Metals Ltd hydrometallurgy technology – which is already in use at the Pilanesberg Platinum Mines operation on South Africa’s Bushveld Complex – suggests that this would be a low capital flowsheet addition with significant operating and economic benefits.
Jardee Kininmonth, Managing Director of Future Metals, said: “We have now demonstrated a credible metallurgical solution which places Panton firmly on the development pathway. Panton is the highest grade PGM deposit in Australia, enabling us to progress a low capital and high margin operation with significant growth upside.
“Optimisation and variability flotation test work has demonstrated highly repeatable results with strong recoveries at high concentrate grades.”
New flotation results from this latest program of optimisation and variability test work yielded positive results on the high-grade chromitite samples with PGM recoveries of 75.7-81.4% with concentrate grades from 167-387 g/t PGM with an average of 286 g/t PGM.
Kininmonth continued: “The ore sorting results are significant, as it is the key to increasing mineable tonnes while ensuring the ore reporting to the mill is high grade. This allows for increased economies of scale within the mine, utilising conventional underground mining methods, while decreasing processing plant capital costs by increasing the grade of the mill feed, with negligible losses of high-grade ore.”
Following “sighter” test work success, a bulk sorting test was completed with Steinert Sorting Solutions using its X-ray Transmission (XRT) and 3D Laser combination sort program, due to the chromitite in the Panton samples being substantially higher in atomic density.
The bulk test work involved compositing separate chromitite and dunite samples to replicate the expected feed mix from a mine stope. The chromitite and dunite were crushed and screened into to three size fractions: plus-25 mm, plus-10 mm, and -10 mm.
The bulk ore sort test work validated the sighter test work on multiple size fractions, demonstrating 96.7% recovery of high-grade ore and rejection of low-grade and waste, increasing the PGM grade of the potential mill feed by 10.7% and reducing the throughput volume by 12.7%.
Kininmonth concluded: “Additionally, we have been progressing discussions with potential technology partners to assess a low-capital downstream integration option at Panton. Downstream integration enables the production of high-margin metals products while also significantly decreasing the emissions profile associated with those products, thereby differentiating Panton from the majority of South African and Russia producers, which use coal-fired power and generate other emissions such as sulphur dioxide.
“Downstream processing also closely aligns Panton with the Australian Government’s critical minerals strategy which incentivises onshore upgrading and development of strategically important deposits such as Panton.”