Metals and rare earth processor Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) joint venture (JV) partner South Korea’s Zirconium Technology Corporation (ZironTech) has produced high purity (99.83%) titanium metal powder through its new electrorefining process at the commercial pilot plant in South Korea.
This was the final stage of the patented metal process and it confirms 50% less energy is used than traditional methods. ASM will now focus on the production of dysprosium, praseodymium and zirconium metals in August.
“ASM’s exclusive global licence to commercialise this clean metal-refining technology, replacing conventional energy-intensive and polluting metallisation processes with a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative is progressing extremely well and reinforces our ‘mine to metal’ strategy,” ASM MD David Woodall notes in a press release.
He states that in addition to the valuable metal titanium, ASM has already proven production of a key permanent magnet metal – neodymium – and that it, together with praseodymium and dysprosium, is essential for advanced technologies and manufacturing.
As such, this significant milestone provides a strong base for ASM to progress opportunities with the South Korean government and business groups.
“While my team and I are in [South] Korea, we are discussing the development of a clean metal plant in Korea to feed critical metals to [South] industry, as well as one in Australia to supply Australian manufacturing. This will position ASM as the only integrated mine-to-metal producer outside China, providing critical materials directly to Australian and international manufacturers,” notes Woodall.
ASM’s 2020 objective is to deliver an integrated metals business inclusive of the metallisation and an optimised Dubbo Project. Given the increased revenues from the production of metals and flotation at the front-end of the Dubbo flowsheet, the JV’s work is focused on increasing revenues and reducing project capital and operating costs.
“With all major approvals and licences in place, an established extraction process flowsheet and a solid business case, ASM’s Dubbo Project is ready for construction,” states Woodall.
The JV is connecting ASM directly with leading South Korean companies, building customer relationships for offtake contracts under the South Korea-Australia free trade agreement. At the same time, ASM is progressing quickly on the development of its integrated metals plan with the strengthening of the economics of the Dubbo Project and proving the clean metal process by the production of high purity metals.