A hydrometallurgical study conducted at Murdoch University in Perth has delivered robust processing results for Venus Metals Corporation and its Youanmi vanadium deposit in Western Australia’s Mid West region. The study was commissioned in 2019 to develop an integrated process flow sheet for the extraction of vanadium, iron and titanium. Importantly, a provisional patent application for the Youanmi oxide ore process has been lodged and accepted with IP Australia.
Tests show blended composite raw material grading 0.66 per cent vanadium oxide and 44.38 per cent iron oxide can be upgraded by a simple concentrate process to 1.07 per cent and 65.3 per cent, respectively.
Reductive roast followed by low temperature acid leaching achieves a recovery of 80 per cent vanadium and 80 per cent iron.
Notably, the new process wields a low acid consumption with about 72 per cent of the sulfuric acid extracted from the leach liquor.
Significant acid consumption can be a substantial production cost when it comes to processing vanadium ore.
There is no shortage of upcoming work on Venus’ horizon. The explorer currently has a techno-economic assessment of beneficiation-leaching and recovery workflow in progress. In addition, it is planning to kick off a pilot plant at Murdoch University’s Kwinana industrial facility and also table a feasibility study, underpinned by low capital and operating costs.
Venus plans to lodge a ‘Critical Mineral Grant’ application with the Federal government to support its project.
The company owns 90 per cent of the ‘world-scale’ open pit vanadium oxide resource at Youanmi, standing tall at 134.7 million tonnes grading 0.34 per cent vanadium oxide, 6.27 per cent titanium oxide and 21.33 per cent iron.
Notably, the deposit is located about 40km southeast of the significant vanadium deposit at Windimurra.
The company says its resource has the potential to be a significant supplier to the world vanadium market particularly for the emerging renewable battery energy needs.
Recently, vanadium has been in vogue in the markets with anything associated with the specialty metal garnering serious attention.
Most of the action surrounds the emerging new technology of vanadium redox flow batteries that was interestingly invented and developed in Australia at the University of New South Wales in the 1980s.
As opposed to the lithium-ion variety, vanadium-based batteries excel in servicing large-scale applications and as such has carved out a niche in the new energy economy.
Since the initial patent expired in 2006 companies and research groups have come out of the woodwork to get involved with the innovative technology.
Interestingly, a report by the International Energy Agency predicts early commercialisation of vanadium redox flow batteries could see demand for the speciality metal in 2030 surge 2.5 times higher than was initially modelled in the base case.
Early maturation of vanadium-type could see it capture almost a third of the energy storage market by 2050, reaching its true potential amongst large wind and solar farms.
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