Alcore aluminium fluoride
In 2020, ABx’s 83%-owned subsidiary Alcore Limited succeeded in producing aluminium fluoride samples consistent with commercial grades of aluminium fluoride used in aluminium smelters, without which, the smelters cannot operate. There is no substitute.
In 2021, Alcore achieved a world first by producing aluminium fluoride from smelter waste products, which not only increases profitability but will provide security of supply of this critically important ingredient for Australasian aluminium smelters whilst continuing to improve their environmental excellence. Australia is the only major aluminium producer without an aluminium fluoride plant and has relied on imports, mainly from China, which have recently stopped.
Operating margins for a 60,000 tonnes aluminium fluoride plant are estimated to be in the order of $50 million per annum at current prices of aluminium fluoride and projected operating costs, supplying Australasian smelters and exporting to several known smelters.
Alcore plans to build its plant in Bell Bay Tasmania and once in production, Alcore can expand into advanced technologies including lithium ion batteries, high purity alumina, HF acid and fluorine gas.
Rare earth elements (REE) discovery
In 2021, ABx confirmed its discovery of potentially ore grade rare earth elements (REE) at its Deloraine bauxite project in northern Tasmania. This discovery is ideal for ABx because it is:
- Rich in super-magnet rare earth metals, especially “neodymium” which is the main component of super magnets that are essential strategic metals for electric vehicles, wind turbines, modern smart phones and military devices but are in short supply;
- “Water soluble” ionic clay type of REE which can be developed quickly at low cost;
- Shallow depth, typically 6 to 16 metres from surface; and,
- Free of radioactive elements thorium and uranium so it can be processed in any country.
ABx shares are one of only three exchange-listed opportunities globally for this ionic clay type of REE which have hitherto been a major contributor to China’s 86% control of the REE markets. Market capitalisations of ABx’s peer group companies in the REE exploration sector exceed $100 million.
New bauxite mine developments
ABx has completed rehabilitation of its Bald Hill mine in northern Tasmania to better than pre-mining land value which is ABx’s paramount policy. ABx’s rehabilitation technology is a core strength.
ABx is moving to the nearby Fingal Rail project which is larger and better quality bauxite. ABx is keen to deliver Fingal Rail bauxite into two contracts by late 2021, early 2022. Fingal Rail can grow to deliver larger revenues for ABx than Bald Hill’s $0.5 to $2 million EBITDA in past years.
ABx’s mining lease application for the Sunrise Bauxite Project is on the large Binjour deposit located 115km west of Bundaberg Port in QLD. ABx is finalising transnational legal arrangements for the 50:50 joint venture with Rawmin Mining of India which is funding the project and provides ABx with technologies to meet customer specifications and for large-scale shipping of bauxite, based on Rawmin’s 30 years shipping of its own bauxite from Indian river ports similar to Bundaberg Port.