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Scoping highlights economics of Surefire vanadium play

Surefire Resources says an updated beneficiation scoping study for its wholly-owned Victory Bore vanadium project, 530km northeast of Perth in WA, has underlined the economic viability of the venture. The company has its hands on a 151 million tonne resource at 0.44 per cent vanadium pentoxide, 25 per cent iron and 6.73 per cent titanium dioxide at the operation.

A scoping study was previously completed at Victory Bore by another explorer about a decade ago, however following a persistent rise in the price of the metal, Surefire enlisted mining consultancy MinRizon to review and update the study.

According to the company, the study was based on metallurgical test work completed by Promet Engineers, Mineral Engineering Technical Services and the CSIRO.

The collaboration led to the development of an industry-standard vanadium beneficiation flowsheet that included magnetic separation, sodium salt roasting and water leaching.

Surefire says the process takes into account how other players in the Mid West iron ore province treat product and as a result is based on a tried-and-true formula.

The study focused on the beneficiation and transport components of traditional mining, however, the company says pit-optimisation work for open cut mining is also planned to reduce costs.

Beneficiation test work has demonstrated three products can be extracted from the ore, including vanadium pentoxide flake, currently trending at around US$11.10 per pound.

The company says another product called ferrovanadium can also be produced by extending the process through to an arc furnace stage with spot prices for the commodity trending at around US$45.25 per kilogram.

The final product is a magnetite concentrate used in the manufacturing of ‘green iron’ pig iron – an intermediary type of iron made using an environmentally-conscious process. The product is currently fetching US$660.35 per tonne.

According to Surefire, despite not yet crafting a net present value-based financial model for the project, its management was provided with a sturdy research update highlighting an OPEX estimate that allows the scoping study to be pushed towards to a prefeasibility study.

The company says the results of the scoping study has reinforced its confidence the project could deliver both a high-grade vanadium product and a financially-rewarding return on investment.

Vanadium has long been used to create steel alloys, nuclear reactors and aircraft carriers but the metal’s employment in the production of vanadium redox flow batteries has recently brought it to the forefront of a bubbling industry.

In the renewable energy space, the batteries are often used to store electricity for utility networks, commercial premises and industrial sites. The devices are also used to store energy generated by solar and wind-powered systems.

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@wanews.com.au

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