Tag Archives: titanium dioxide

NioCorp working with Weir Minerals, NRRI on Elk Creek HPGR test work

NioCorp Developments Ltd is to initiate testing of Elk Creek project ore using high pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) technology from Weir Minerals.

HPGR technology is considered an energy efficient and low-emission alternative to conventional processing for reducing the size of the ore to enable the recovery of niobium, scandium, titanium, and potential rare earth products, NioCorp said.

The use of this technology in the project reinforces the company’s commitment to the environment and designing a sustainable operation, it added.

The testing is being conducted at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, in partnership with Weir Minerals. During the testing, which is expected to take several weeks, around 3 t of Elk Creek drill core will be reduced to the 1-mm size needed for hydrometallurgical test work.

Working with Weir Minerals, NRRI acquired an industrial-scale Enduron® HPGR to carry out testing on a variety of ores with this process back in 2020. This is the only large scale HPGR dedicated to research in the US, NRRI claims.

“The network is expected to provide key data that will be used to properly size the HPGR unit for the potential ore throughput at the Elk Creek project, once project financing is secured and the project is operational,” NioCorp said.

The company is currently evaluating the next steps in its overall metallurgical test work program, which will focus on optimising and streamlining the existing processing flowsheet as well as establishing process routes for the potential recovery of rare earth products. The rare earth products that are of most interest to the company are, at present, neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) oxide, terbium oxide and dysprosium oxide. As previously announced, the company has launched a review of the economic potential of expanding its currently planned product suite from the project to also include rare earth products.

An April 2019 feasibility study on Elk Creek, in Nebraska, USA, estimated average production of 7,220 t/y of ferroniobium, 95 t/y tpa of scandium trioxide and 11,642 t/y of titanium dioxide over the 36-year mine life.

Scott Honan, NioCorp COO, said: “After witnessing testing at NRRI, I was impressed with how the HPGR was able to handle the Elk Creek ore quickly and efficiently, with minimal noise and dust.

“We look forward to completing this phase of the test work and moving on to look at further improvements to the existing flowsheet, including our new emphasis around the rare earths.”

Argex Titanium and China’s ECEC sign engineering agreement

Argex Titanium says it has signed a long term strategic cooperation agreement with East China Engineering Science and Technology Co, located in Hefei, China, to provide access to engineering skills to address the rapidly expanding Chinese demand for titanium dioxide (TiO2).

ECEC is, according to Argex, one of the largest engineering procurement and construction (EPC) companies in China and has built over 2,000 plants across a range of chemical products. “It also specialises in bringing new innovation to market with its strong and very large engineering capabilities,” Argex said.

ECEC has built more than 30 TiO2 plants in China over the past decades and is an expert in the construction of commercial technology for the manufacture of TiO2, according to the Toronto-listed company. It has also built paint production plants in China for one of the world largest paint manufacturer from Japan, it said.

“ECEC has reviewed numerous novel TiO2 production technologies and, after studying Argex, has concluded that it is now at the stage of full commercial deployment at a large scale,” Argex said.

Argex, meanwhile, intends to become a low-cost producer of TiO2 and other valuable by-products through an advanced proprietary chemical process. High-grade purity TiO2 will be produced at its facilities, serving major markets in North America and abroad, it says.

The agreement terms include a 15-year time commitment, a division of responsibility between Argex and ECEC, and a commitment to use Argex technology in China as well as other countries in which ECEC is active.

“The partners will offer EPC services to clients wishing to expand existing facilities or to construct ‘greenfield’ new plants,” Argex said. ECEC will provide marketing services in China and in other Asia countries, in addition to providing the basic engineering design based on the ore selection of a specific client. ECEC will, meanwhile, provide detail engineering and EPC contract bidding.

“The partnership with ECEC also brings ECEC’s long standing, project financing relationships with both domestic and international financial institutions,” Argex said. “ECEC sees in Argex the right partner, both, to transform the domestic TiO2 production capacity in China into environmentally-friendly and lower-cost production and also a technology partner to allow it to expand rapidly into various international markets. ECEC has built various plants across different countries in offering a full spectrum solution, bringing EPC services and financing as one full package.”

ECEC will immediately start work on three projects in parallel, the design and bidding for Argex technology centre in Quebec (pictured), Canada; a 25,000 t/y plant in China and a project in Vietnam.

“This represents an immediate financial benefit to Argex as ECEC will work on detailed engineering for all three projects in parallel, thanks to their strong and vast expertise and workforce,” Argex said.

ECEC will introduce Argex to TiO2 manufacturers in China which will become licensees for the Argex technology, according to the company.

Mazen Alnaimi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Argex, said: “We are very happy to have formed this long-term partnership for the commercial application of our technology. ECEC is a very qualified and respected contractor with tremendous experience in the construction of TiO2 plants in China.

“The growth potential in the country for TiO2 projects is very exciting and we know the Chinese government is regulating legacy technology out of existence, leading to many revamps or replacements of existing facilities.

“We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with ECEC for years into the future and combined success in establishing the Argex technology as the preferred method of expansion in the Chinese market and throughout Asia.”