Richmond Vanadium Project Update
- The Richmond Vanadium Project Joint Venture with AXF Resources Pty Ltd ("AXF") covers 1,550 km2 over five exploration permits 260km east of Mt Isa in central Queensland (see Note 1 below)
- AXF can earn up to 75% interest in Richmond by spending A$6 million over four years
- The project contains a historic 3.3 billion tonne Vanadium - Molybdenum Resource (JORC 2004) grading 0.40% V2O5 and 295g/t MoO3 (see Note 2 below)
- An updated Mineral Resource Estimate is being compiled to account for recent changes in tenement boundaries and JORC 2012 Reporting
- The Department of Natural Resources & Minerals (DNRM) approved Project Status for the Richmond Project on 28 August 2017
- Intermin has conducted extensive field work and metallurgical test work to assess pre-concentration and metal extraction flowsheets
- AXF has completed initial bulk sample collection of vanadium ore for dispatch to research institutes in China for detailed metallurgical testwork
- Vanadium Joint Venture allows Intermin to focus on its core WA gold projects
Commenting on the Richmond Vanadium project, Intermin Managing Director, Jon Price said:
"With the increasing interest in the energy metals space and rising Vanadium prices, we are extremely pleased to be advancing this globally significant resource with our JV partner AXF who bring both technical expertise and commercial opportunities in China.
"Vanadium redox flow battery applications for grid-scale renewable energy storage systems is set to continue growing at a rapid rate and, together with conventional steel alloy and chemical demand, places the project front and centre as a potential leading supplier into the future."
Intermin owns 100% in five Mineral Exploration Permits (EPM25163, EPM25164, EPM25258, EPM26425 and EPM26426) covering 481 Blocks near Richmond and 100% metal rights to Global Oil Shale Plc's Julia Creek MDL 522 (see Figure 3 in the link below).
The project covers large areas of the Toolebuc Formation containing oil shale deposits that host extensive vanadium and molybdenum mineralisation. Since project inception prior to 2006, Intermin has completed significant drilling and beneficiation testwork and has compiled a substantial technical database.
An updated Mineral Resource Estimate will be compiled to comply with the latest JORC Code guidelines and accurately account for mineralisation as some tenements that previously contained parts of the former JORC 2004 Resource are not part of the current project area.
In addition, AXF has now reviewed the outcome of Intermin's earlier testwork and has designed follow up metallurgical and mineral dressing programs to be conducted on new bulk samples. Suitable research institutes have been identified in China to conduct the testwork and bulk sample shipment is scheduled to commence in the December quarter.
Approximately 1.2 tonnes of mineralised Toolebuc Limestone (Coquina) was collected from existing gravel pits within the project area in early August 2017 (see Figure 1 in the link below). Bulk samples (see Figure 4 in the link below) will be sent to at least two research institutes in China to conduct trial tests of mineral and metallurgical processing for the extraction of Vanadium and Molybdenum. Testwork and reporting is expected to take around 18 - 20 weeks after samples arrive.
Historic Resource and Metallurgical Testwork Summary
Intermin first defined a JORC 2004 Mineral Resource Estimate in 2007 and completed various updates based on new drilling data within the project tenements between 2006 and 2014 (see ASX releases dated 12 November and 10, 11 December 2013) (see Table 1 in the link below). Since 2014 project tenements have progressively been rationalised to form the current Richmond project which does not contain the same Resource as previously stated.
Detailed metallurgical test work has been completed by Intermin to establish methods for upgrading, leaching and purification of the metals from the oxidised oil shale. Further work is required to devise a commercial plant scale beneficiation process however the Company has developed laboratory scale proprietary technology which recovers 75 - 85% of the V, Mo, Ni and Cu from the oxide mineralisation.
The process involves upgrading by scrubbing and cycloning to remove the coarse fraction of the coquina ore recovering up to 90% of the Vanadium into ~25% of the mass. This is followed by further chemical upgrading to produce a concentrate grading around 1.5% V2O5 and 0.1% Mo.
Acid leaching of this concentrate dissolves up to 90% of the value metals via an atmospheric pressure leach but with relatively high reagent consumption. Methods of separating the respective metals have also been developed to recover vanadium as V2O5, molybdenum as molybdate and nickel and copper as sulphide concentrates for sale to third party smelters.
Recent work has also considered the production and extraction of a high-grade kerogen concentrate from the fresh oil shale which, if successful, will result in a high oil content product containing appreciable quantities of the metals (vanadium and molybdenum) that may be recovered after "ashing".
Global Oil Shale (retained metal rights) at Julia Creek Project
In 2005, Intermin assigned its hydrocarbon (oil shale) production rights to AIM listed company Xtract Energy PLC (LON:XTR) which was subsequently sold to UK based Global Oil Shale (GOS) in 2013 (see ASX release dated 29 May 2013).
The agreement provided GOS with 100% ownership of the Julia Creek block of tenements subject to Intermin retaining the rights to recover all mineral values (including vanadium, molybdenum and nickel) from the oil shale mineralisation outlined and from any tailings or residues produced by GOS from oil or hydrocarbon production.
Intermin also acquired the rights to process any oil shale resources delineated within the Richmond project tenements for recovery of oil/hydrocarbons and all minerals including vanadium, molybdenum and nickel (see Figure 3 in the link below).
The Richmond project is located within marine sediments of the Early Cretaceous Toolebuc Formation which is a stratigraphic unit that occurs throughout the Eromanga Basin central-northern Queensland. The Toolebuc sediments that consist predominantly of black carbonaceous and bituminous shale and minor siltstone, with limestone lenses and coquinites (mixed limestone and clays). It is composed of two distinct units representing two different facies; an upper coarse limestone-rich-clay-oil shale unit (coquina) and a lower fine grained carbonate-clay-oil shale unit.
The limestone within the Toolebuc Formation has an abundant fossil assemblage which has been extensively studied. Two main faunal assemblages have been recognised, corresponding to the upper coquina facies (shelly limestone and clay) and a lower fine grained carbonate shale facies. The organic matter in the fresh shale is predominantly lamellar and referred to by Hutton et al (1980) as 'lamosite' (lamellar oil shale). The organic compounds are described as Alginite B in order to distinguish them from the more generally recognised Alginite A, in which clear evidence of algal morphology can be observed.
Alginite B comprises elongate anastomosing films derived from benthonic algae that are referable to the Cyanophyceae genera of blue-green algae (Ozimic, 1986). High magnification scanning electron microscopy reveals the oil shale contains abundant micro fossils, dominated by small planktonic foraminifera and coccoliths (algal plates) believed to be derived from Cyanophta / blue- green algae. Average grain size of the lower oil shale calcareous nanofossils and clays are less than 5 to 7 microns.
The blue-green algae are interpreted to have formed extensive algal mats on the sea floor. The preservation of dead algal matter can be related to an oxidising-reducing boundary probably situated immediately below the base of the living algal mat layer and keeping pace with its upward growth. The clays and kerogen are derived from planktonic algae and blue-green benthonic algae with the calcite representing the inorganic component of the organisms.
Within fresh Toolebuc Formation the oil grade of the coquina based on Modified Fischer Assay varies between 7-45 litres/tonne, averaging approximately 24 litres/tonne. The formation is strongly oxidised down to 15-20m and negligible oil exists in the oxidised portions of the oil shale. In the Richmond project area outcrops of both the upper coquina and lower oil shale are strongly oxidised to approximately 15m deep (see Figure 5 in the link below).
The lower unit is the main oil shale horizon which, in the fresh rock, contains the majority of the oil. This fine-grained oil shale averages 5-10m thick and is principally composed of calcite, clays and kerogen. Pyritic sediments (1-2cm thick) may comprise approximately 5% of the rock mass. Oil grade within the fresh rock based on Modified Fischer Assay varies from 55 to 100 litres per tonne and averages between 65 and 75 litres/tonne. The oil is contained within the kerogen, which comprises approximately 18wt% of the fresh oil shale. The composition of the kerogen is about 75% carbon, 8% hydrogen, 5% sulphur, 2% nitrogen and 10% oxygen (Tolmie, 1987).
Vanadium grade within the oxidised finer grained oil shale averages approximately 0.40% V2O5 and 0.30% V2O5 in the fresh rock.
Richmond Joint Venture with AXF Resources
As announced to the ASX on 13 December 2016, Intermin executed a binding Heads of Agreement with AXF to form a strategic joint venture over the Richmond project.
Details of the Heads of Agreement between the parties include;
- An earn in Joint Venture whereby AXF can earn 25% of the project area by spending A$1m within a 1 year period and maintaining the project in good standing
- AXF to solely contribute to further expenditure of $5m on the projects to earn a further 50% over a 3-year period
- AXF to invest A$430,000m in equity in Intermin at 12c per share with 1:2 option with a strike of 17c and expiry of 31 August 2018
- During the sole funding period, AXF will manage the exploration program and tenure with direction from the JV committee comprising representatives from both parties
- Upon AXF satisfying the earn-in terms, each party will contribute to ongoing expenditure in accordance with their respective percentages
- As advised to the ASX on 19 September 2017, a formal joint venture has now been executed and the equity investment has been completed
Vanadium is used globally as an industrial element with a variety of common applications and its demand is growing due to the advancement of new technologies such as the energy storage industry whereby vanadium is a key component in the grid scale storage of solar and wind energy.
Vanadium is ductile with good structural strength, has a natural resistance to corrosion and stability against alkalis, acids and salt water. The most common uses for vanadium today are:
- Steel Alloys - high strength low alloy steel (HSLA), high carbon steel alloys (HSS), rebar and structured beams and high speed tools and surgical instruments;
- Chemicals - catalysts for sulphuric acid and synthetic rubber production, catalytic converters to remove sulphur dioxide and NOx catalysts;
- Titanium Alloys - Ti-6Al-4V in airframes, jet engines, personal transports and dental implants; and
- Energy Storage - vanadium electrolyte, grid scale vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB), lithium-vanadium based batteries for electric vehicles.
Traditionally the main uses for vanadium by volume is the steel industry because when it is alloyed with other metals it provides unrivalled hardness and strength. In recent decades with the development of VRFB's consumption of vanadium is forecast to increase significantly into the future to meet renewable energy sector demands. Major global corporations including Sumitomo and Siemens are at the forefront of VRFB technology.
Analyst consensus sees demand for vanadium in traditional applications growing at an annual compound growth rate of 6% through 2020 as a result of moderating growth rates in global steel production and ongoing substitution of C-Mn steel with vanadium bearing HSLA steels. In 2017 so far prices for vanadium pentoxide and ferrovanadium have risen more than 25% to four year highs.
Energy storage applications have the potential to increase global vanadium consumption by more than 27,000t p.a. or more than 30% of the current market by 2020. In the near term there are limited potential new sources for vanadium and the existing supply base is threatened by instability in the Chinese steel industry.
For recent global vanadium production and consumption estimates and further details on the industry please visit the Vanitec website; http://vanitec.org/
Vanitec brings together representatives of companies and organisations involved in the mining, processing, manufacture, research and use of vanadium and vanadium-containing products.
How a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery Works
A VRFB is a type of rechargeable flow battery where rechargeability is provided by vanadium electrolyte dissolved in solution. Vanadium is both the cathode (-) and anode (+) in VRFB technology (see Figure 6 in the link below).
Two tanks of vanadium electrolyte, one side containing V2+ and V3+ions, the other side containing V4+ and V5+ ions, are separated by a thin proton exchange membrane. Pumps on both sides circulate the electrolyte.
The electron differential between the two cells generates electric power.
There is no cross contamination in VRFB's like most batteries as electrolyte in the catholyte and the anolyte consists of 100% vanadium ions. The ion sensitive membrane separating both sides of the electrolyte tank allows only protons to pass.
VRFB's are scalable to meet an unlimited range of storage capacity.
1 As announced to the ASX on 13 December 2016.
2 as announced on 12 November and 10-11 December 2013, see Table 1 and Competent Persons Statement on page 7 and Forward Looking and Cautionary Statement on page 8.
To view tables and figures, please visit:
About Intermin Resources Limited
Intermin Resources Limited (ASX:IRC) is a gold exploration and mining company focussed on the Kalgoorlie and Menzies areas of Western Australia which are host to some of Australia's richest gold deposits. The Company is developing a mining pipeline of projects to generate cash and self-fund aggressive exploration, mine developments and further acquisitions. The Teal gold mine has been recently completed.
Intermin is aiming to significantly grow its JORC-Compliant Mineral Resources, complete definitive feasibility studies on core high grade open cut and underground projects and build a sustainable development pipeline.
Intermin has a number of joint ventures in place across multiple commodities and regions of Australia providing exposure to Vanadium, Copper, PGE's, Gold and Nickel/Cobalt. Our quality joint venture partners are earning in to our project areas by spending over $20 million over 5 years enabling focus on the gold business while maintaining upside leverage.
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