The Asia Miner

JUN 2018

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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Page 28 of 51

the asia miner • volume 15 • issue 2 27 AROUND THE REGION: Australia Australian Strategic Materials (ASM), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alkane Resources, has successfully developed a high - purity hafnium dioxide (HfO 2 ) product that will be directly marketable as a feed material for a number of downstream applicaƟons and for producing metallic hafnium. The technical specificaƟons of this material have been tailored to meet global market requirements, following extensive industry consultaƟon over the past 12 months. Metallic hafnium is the fastest growing market for hafnium and the most significant by volume, parƟcularly due to the use of hafnium in superalloys and other aerospace alloys. The high - purity hafnium dioxide developed by ASM exceeds 99.8% HfO 2 , and 99.9% (Hf+Zr)O 2 , providing the ideal feedstock for the high - purity metallic hafnium that is in demand for alloying purposes. A high purity hafnium chemical precursor has also been developed. The new products were produced by a proprietary process at ASM's DemonstraƟon Pilot Plant at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology OrganisaƟon (ANSTO) in New South Wales, Australia. The process flowsheet for the Dubbo Project consists of a sulphuric acid leach followed by solvent extracƟon recovery and refining to produce several products, including zirconium, hafnium, niobium and rare earths. HAFNIUM MARKET AND OUTLOOK FOR FUTURE GROWTH Global demand for hafnium is rising parƟcularly for use in metallic form, which currently accounts for around 85% by volume (60% superalloys, 15% plasma cuƫng Ɵps, 10% nuclear control rods). Emerging aerospace applicaƟons are expected to consume further significant volumes of metallic hafnium. Hafnium dioxide, meanwhile, is emerging as a material of choice in semiconductors and data storage devices (ferro - electric applicaƟons), while many future industries such as those based on its thermo - electric properƟes and super high temperature ceramics for supersonic aircraŌ and space vehicles will also rely on materials containing hafnium. Projected growth in demand is poised to exceed current producƟon, which is limited to approximately 70tpa (83tpa HfO2), since hafnium is typically only extracted from zirconium processing streams for nuclear energy applicaƟons requiring high - purity zirconium. Market research by ASM and independent internaƟonal market consultants forecasts a 2026 base demand of 112tpa (132tpa HfO2), and an unconstrained high - demand case of 151tpa (178tpa HfO2). The Project represents a unique source of hafnium that is independent of all tradiƟonal markets – including China (currently accounƟng for at least 75% of world producƟon of zirconium materials, and over 95% of zirconium chemicals), the nuclear zirconium industry and the zircon industry in general. Hafnium product breakthrough consolidates Dubbo Project business case Process fowsheet. ©Australian Strategic Materials Rio Tinto conƟnues to work with its partners to develop the best soluƟon for a domesƟc power supply for the Oyu Tolgoi operaƟon, following the Government of Mongolia's cancellaƟon of the Southern Region Power Sector CooperaƟon Agreement (PSCA). The decision to terminate the PSCA indicates that the Government of Mongolia no longer views the Tavan Tolgoi Power Project (TTPP) as a viable opƟon for Oyu Tolgoi. As a result, and in line with the terms of the 2009 Investment Agreement, Oyu Tolgoi is now obliged to deliver a domesƟc power source for the operaƟon within four years from mid Q1 2018. Oyu Tolgoi, Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill Resources have expressed commitment to fulfilling all of the commitments under the Investment Agreement and are conƟnuing to evaluate all viable power opƟons, including the construcƟon of an Oyu Tolgoi site-based power plant. Rio Tinto will conƟnue to review its capex forecasts for the project but has already earmarked US$250 million a year for the development of a power staƟon in Mongolia in its 2019 and 2020 capex forecasts. The PSCA laid out a framework for cooperaƟon between the Government of Mongolia and Oyu Tolgoi to deliver a comprehensive energy plan for the South Gobi region. The Government of Mongolia's primary intenƟon was to develop a new independent power plant at the Tavan Tolgoi coalfields with Oyu Tolgoi as off-taker rather than owner. Located in Mongolia's South Gobi Desert, Oyu Tolgoi is one of the world's largest copper-gold developments. Since 2012, operaƟons have been mining ore from the Oyu Tolgoi open pit and producing copper-gold concentrate at a facility located adjacent to the mine site. Open-pit operaƟons produced 157 thousand tonnes of copper, 114 thousand ounces of mined gold and 974 thousand ounces of silver (100 per cent basis) during 2017. Rio Tinto committed to domestic power solution for Oyu Tolgoi

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