ASX-listed Australian Bauxite is hoping for a clear run this year after the company’s development activities were curtailed at its advancing Sunrise “metallurgical-grade” bauxite project in Queensland due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in the December quarter.
The Sydney-based company managed however to notch up a major milestone late last year having submitted an application for a 437-hectare mining lease covering the proposed development of a bauxite mining and beneficiation operation at Sunrise.
Sunrise’s key Binjour deposit hosts a significant proportion of gibbsite-rich trihydrate bauxite, widely regarded as the more valuable of the alumina ore minerals.
According to Australian Bauxite, the higher-grade Binjour product makes ideal metallurgical bauxite for the production of aluminium metal via low-temperature Bayer-process alumina refineries.
The company aims to spit out approximately 500,000 tonnes a year of gibbsite-rich trihydrate bauxite at an average grade of about 45 per cent aluminium oxide and 5 per cent silica for export and refining into alumina.
The Sunrise project, 115 kilometres south-west of the Port of Bundaberg, has an initial forecast life of mine of 23 years and an incredibly low estimated pre-production CAPEX and working capital ascribed to it of only $15 million, according to the company.
Binjour’s indicated and inferred bauxite resource of 37 million tonnes contains about 10.4 million tonnes of gibbsite-rich trihydrate bauxite that is considered suitable for simple bulk mining, beneficiation and shipping as direct shipping ore, or “DSO”.
Importantly, Australian Bauxite says its Indian marketing partner, Mumbai-based Rawmin Mining and Industries, has agreed to fund all the CAPEX and working capital costs for the Sunrise project.
The funding injection remains subject to final due diligence work which has been delayed by COVID-19 travel restrictions.
In the event the financing deal goes through, Rawmin – who supplies metallurgical bauxite to China and other countries – would then become a 50 per cent joint-venture partner in Sunrise. Australian Bauxite will remain project operator.
Australian Bauxite has also struck a memorandum of understanding agreement with the Port of Bundaberg to investigate the possibility of a bauxite stockpiling site being designated at the port for the blending of bauxite to contracted specifications.
The plan is to truck Binjour ore there and ultimately export high-quality metallurgical-grade DSO bauxite in capesize bulk carriers with a cargo capacity of 150,000 tonnes from the port.
If Australian Bauxite can get its Sunrise mining lease application approved this year, it may well be a watershed year for the $14 million market-capped company.
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