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Vanadium Project

Project Summary

The Bushveld Vanadium Project is a world-class vanadium project boasting some of the world’s highest in-situ (>1.4% V2O5) and in-concentrate (2.01% V2O5) vanadium grades. The deposit is based on the same license area as the P-Q Iron & Titanium Project and is a layered ore body along a north-south strike and dipping at 18-22° to the west running 2 km to the east and parallel to the P-Q Iron & Titanium Project resource.

The Bushveld Vanadium project comprises three adjacent and parallel magnetite layers – the MML layer, the MML-Hanging wall layer and the AB Zone, with JORC resource delineated on the MML (52Mt at 45% Fe, 1.48% V2O5, 9.7% TiO2) and the MML Hanging Wall (69Mt at 29% Fe, 0.80% 2O5, 11.9% TiO2)

The Company envisages utilizing the locally well-proven salt roast processing flow sheet. A recently completed (July 2014) scoping study focusing solely on the MML confirms attractive economics for the project with a modest capital expenditure requirements of US$262 million for a primary vanadium production plant producing 10,350 tons 99% V2O5 per annum from a 1Mtpa run-of-mine open-pit operation. The project is well placed to be a low first quartile producer of vanadium with a cost of US$5.99/kg V2O5.

The Bushveld Vanadium project is located in an important vanadium-producing region, responsible for 26% of the world’s vanadium supply.

The project will also benefit from growing vanadium demand (estimated at ~6% pa by Roskill), underpinned by the steel sector, which accounts for 90% of vanadium consumption globally. The application of vanadium in energy storage, for example in Vanadium Redox Flow batteries, which are fast gaining acceptance, could create substantial high-tech demand growth.


Project Location

The Bushveld Vanadium Project is located approximately 65km west of Polokwane and 45km north-northwest of Mokopane in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. It is readily accessible via a network of paved regional and national roads.

Vanadium Project location image

 

With its extensive platinum and chrome mining activities, the Bushveld Complex is a well-established mining district with sound mining-related infrastructure in place. It is a growing vanadium producing region with world-class vanadium-bearing geological zones and several operational projects.

The Bushveld Complex contains an estimated 20 billion tonnes of vanadium & titanium bearing iron ore representing ~26% of the world’s vanadium reserves and > 30% of its titanium reserves.

It is a growing vanadium producing region with a 4 vanadium operations currently delivering ~26% of global vanadium production.


Mineral Title

The project is compliant with the Black Economic Empowerment (“BEE”) prescriptions of the Department of Mineral Resources, articulated through the Mining Charter. 31.5% of the shareholding of Afro-Multi Minerals Pty) Ltd and 36% shareholding of Pamish Investments No. 39 (Pty) Ltd are held by BEE shareholders, significantly above the 26% threshold targeted for 2014 by the South African Mining Charter.


Geology and Resource

The Bushveld Vanadium Project is based on three mineralized layers associated with the main magnetite layer (“MML”), that are north-south trending with a strike in excess of 5.5km and dipping in a westerly direction at approximately 18° to 22°. They are parallel to and outcrop approximately 2km east of the P-Q Iron Ore Deposit.

A total of 300Mt JORC compliant resource has been established comprising three adjacent layers associated with the MML. These layers and their resource are indicated below:

  • MML HW

  • MML

  • AB

The MML is the only mineralised unit that was considered during a scoping study undertaken in 2014, and consists of two VTM-rich intervals or layers – the upper VTM-rich interval (MAG3), which is an average 4.09 m thick, and the lower interval (MAG4), which averages 3.59 m in thickness. The two intervals are separated by a poorer leucogabbronorite parting some 2.16m thick. This internal stratigraphy is consistent along strike and down dip. An initial mineral resource of 52 Mt has been established on the MML (excluding the parting) and forms the basis for this scoping study

The Bushveld deposit’s vanadium grade is in the top tier of projects worldwide, as illustrated in the chart below:

 

 

Vanadium Deposits


Mining

The MML ore body is ideal for opencast mining. Conventional drilling, blasting, loading and hauling operations are envisaged. The ore can be readily accessed from surface after minimal overburden (soil) stripping. 

Stripping ratios increase as depth increases, with a life-of-mine average stripping ratio of 4.39 for the 1Mtpa ROM scenario, and 3.31 for the 528ktpa ROM scenario. A significant portion of this strip comprises the MML hanging wall (“MML-HW”), an up-to-60 m thick mineralised package that the Company is currently evaluating. This package has been assayed and is expected to have high concentrate vanadium-in-magnetite grades. Mineral resource estimation is now underway. Accordingly, this hanging wall will be stockpiled for further processing.


Metallurgy and Processing

A Salt Roast flow sheet to produce a primary vanadium product was chosen on account of its significantly lower capex and better overall economics, as well as its relatively short path to production while retaining options for further processing of the iron–rich calcine to produce pig iron at a later stage. The block flow diagram below shows a simplified flow sheet for the envisaged Salt Roast processing method

Vanadium Flow Diagram

Figure - High-level illustrative block flow diagram of vanadium plant

The key stages of this processing flow sheet are described below:

 

Concentration
  • Three –stage crushing, milling to 80% passing 53 microns

  • Three-stage low intensity magnetic separation circuit to produce a concentrate product

 
Salt Roasting
  • Concentrate is roasted with sodium carbonate and sodium sulphate in a rotary kiln at up to 1,150 ˚C to form water soluble vanadates.

  • Solids exiting the rotary kiln are discharged directly into a rotary cooler that cools the solids to 350 ˚C;

 
Leach Milling & Purification
  • Regrinding of cooled agglomerated calcine for improved leaching and also acts as the 1st stage of leaching

  • Slurry from the mill is pumped to thickeners for desilication and concentration of the vanadium-bearing leach liquor

  • Thickened tailings are conveyed to tailings disposal

 
AMV precipitation
  • Precipitation of vanadium in the form of ammonium metavanadate (AMV) through addition of Ammonium sulphate (AMSUL) to the vanadium-bearing leach liquor

 
De-ammoniation and fusion
  • The AMV filter cake is dried in a diesel-fired flash dryer and calcined in a diesel-fired AMV calciner to produce V2O5

  • The calcined V2O5 powder is charged into a fusion furnace to form molten V2O5

 
Flaking
  • The molten V2O5 is continuously tapped and flows onto water-cooled flaking wheels forming a thin layer of V2O5, which solidifies and is then scraped off as the final product of V2O5 flakes;

 
Concentration
  • Three –stage crushing, milling to 80% passing 53 microns

  • Three-stage low intensity magnetic separation circuit to produce a concentrate product

 
Salt Roasting
  • Concentrate is roasted with sodium carbonate and sodium sulphate in a rotary kiln at up to 1,150 ˚C to form water-soluble vanadates

  • Solids exiting the rotary kiln are discharged directly into a rotary cooler that cools the solids to 350 ˚C;


Infrastructure

The envisaged production of 10,350 tonnes per annum (or 863 tonnes per month) does not suffer infrastructure constraints. The project area is well serviced with road, rail, port, electricity, water and coal infrastructure, being located in a well-established mining district with existing world-class mining operations


Scoping Study, 2014

A scoping study on the Mokopane Vanadium Project was completed in July 2014. The scoping study was based on an operation targeting only the MML and envisaged a 30-year life of mine operation at a mining rate of 1 Mtpa down to a depth of 80m. A total capital cost of US$262 million was estimated, of which $216.5 million would be for the processing plant An operating cost of US$5,995 / tonne of V2O5 product is expected which places the project t in the first quartile of the vanadium cost curve.


Pre Feasbility Study, 2015

A Pre-feasibility study is currently underway on the Mokopane Vanadium Project. The study is premised on only the MML resource and envisages a 1 Mtpa run of mine operation to produce approximately 9,500 tons V2O5.