Alkane Resources (ASX:ALK) subsidiary Australian Strategic Materials’ and its Korean research and development partner, ZironTech, have made a breakthrough in rare earth material processing.
The milestone has come with ZironTech successfully completing preliminary work on the metallisation of neodymium oxide feed producing approximately 1kg of neodymium metal alloy in the laboratory from its patented reduction process in South Korea.
The JV is targeting 45% less energy use in its rare earth metallisation process than the current industrial process.
Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) Managing Director, David Woodall, said this is the first stage of the production of critical metals used in a range of sustainable technologies and new manufacturing industries such as renewable energy and electric vehicle production.
Mr Woodall said the JV will continue to progress the innovative low emission, high purity metal refining technology to produce metals of zirconium, titanium, rare earths and other critical materials for the renewable energy, speciality alloys and permanent magnet markets.
Commissioning of an electrorefining section of the pilot plant, which will produce high purity metal, is planned in July 2020. Further pilot plant runs are planned to produce neodymium, praseodymium, and other rare earths in metallic form.
This is a major milestone in ASM’s integrated strategy that includes clean metal production for all products from the development of the Dubbo Project in Central West NSW,” Mr Woodall said.
“This integration of metal production into ASM’s business is consistent with the Australian Government’s objective of adding value within Australia, while ensuring supply security and stability of these critical materials to global and domestic Australian manufacturing sectors.
“ASM and its JV partner continue to progress the second phase of its metallisation strategy focussing on the production of zirconium metal in July 2020, focused on delivering significantly improved economics of its Dubbo project as well as giving it an involvement in the wider commercialisation of a breakthrough technology.”
ASM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alkane Resources Ltd. Alkane is holding an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to consider demerging ASM and establishing it as a stand-alone, ASX listed company.