Andromeda 75%, Minotaur 25%
Poochera, 65km east of Streaky Bay on western Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, is a district of global kaolin significance. It contains numerous kaolin deposits with unique characteristics, including ‘Great White’ mineable reserves of unusually ‘bright, white’ kaolinised granite. The Hammerhead and Great White deposits contain concentrations of up to 16% halloysite, a natural nanoparticle kaolin derivative, quite rare and in increasing demand as a porcelain ceramic additive and potentially for a range of new-technology applications, the focus of Natural Nanotech (see below).
Halloysite’s main contemporary applications are in ceramics, where it is used in the manufacture of high-quality porcelain by adding whiteness, transparency and exceptional strength to the final fired product and as a petroleum cracking catalyst.
Andromeda Metals Ltd (ASX: ADN) is manager of the Great White Kaolin JV (GWJV) and is progressing a definitive feasibility study (DFS) to assess economic viability of a new mining operation at Great White to ship run-of-mine and partially wet processed kaolin product to international customers. The DFS report is anticipated in July 2021. A Mining Licence Application was lodged with the State Regulator on 25 February 2021.
Natural Nanotech and nanotube applications
Research into the use of halloysite nanotubes is leading to the emergence of exciting new markets for the material. Nanotubes can be filled with substances such as biocides, drugs, proteins and polyelectrolytes, leading to potential applications such as:
- controlled release of anticorrosion agents
- sustained release of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and anti-microbials
- sustained release of drugs, food additives and fragrances
- templating synthesis of nano-structures
- uses as catalytic supports and molecular sieves
- specific ion adsorption
- use as polymer fillers for performance improvement
- use in advanced ceramic materials such as biocompatible implants.
Each partner in the GWJV holds 50% interest in Natural Nanotech Pty Ltd (NNT), a vehicle created to pursue new-technology developments using joint venture halloysite feedstock. NNT is funding research programs at the University of Newcastle’s Global Innovative Center for Advanced Nanomaterials (GICAN). The program incorporates research topics including:
- batteries, supercapacitors and semiconductor technologies
- peroxidase and antimicrobial agents in water treatment
- selective gaseous (CO2, H2) capture-storage-transport-conversion
Construction of a pilot plant to manufacture a halloysite composite for CO2 capture is underway. Patent applications are in-hand for the unique nanotechnologies involved in producing carbon nanomaterials from halloysite-kaolin precursors.
To read Terra Studio’s company profile on the Great White Kaolin Project, go to https://www.minotaurexploration.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MEP-company-profile-20-Aug-2020.pdf
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Highlights from Andromeda Metals’ June 2020 PFS (100% basis)
- Life of Mine (LoM) 26 years
- Average annual production of 233ktpa of refined premium halloysite-kaolin product
- Pre-tax NPV8% of A$736M (after-tax NPV8% of A$511M)
- Pre-tax IRR of 175% (after-tax IRR of 135%
- Project cashflow of A$1.97B pre-tax and A$1.39B after-tax
- All In Sustaining Cost (AISC) of A$354/tonne of refined premium halloysite-kaolin product with an anticipated selling price of A$700/tonne
- Pre-production capital estimated at A$13M with a maximum cash requirement of A$28M prior to initial revenues being received
- Payback period of 15 months from commencement of mining
- On-site wet-processing plant fully funded by revenues received from initial DSO production, constructed in the Year 2 of operations at a cost of A$56M.
- Maiden Carey’s Well Ore Reserve of 12.5Mt bright white kaolinized granite classified as Probable Reserves comprising 15% halloysite and 78% kaolinite in the minus 45 micron fraction determined
- Project renamed Great White Kaolin Project from 1 August 2020
- Site Works predicted to start H1 of 2022
Forecast Project Revenues for Minotaur
Andromeda’s PFS estimated that Minotaur Exploration’s 25% interest would, when the project is in production, generate annual EBITDA earnings of A$20 million over the life of the project. From end calendar 2020 Minotaur will co-contribute 25% towards project pre-development and Capex expenses. Minotaur estimates that obligation will amount to $1.5 million by end of 2021, with clarity expected from the approaching DFS report.
Kaolin JV Product Branding
The joint venture re-branded the kaolin project and its integral deposits in conjunction with Andromeda’s international product marketing effort. The naming theme is based upon pelagic shark and ray species prevalent in the Great Australian Bight.
The Poochera Halloysite-Kaolin Joint Venture is now the Great White Kaolin Joint Venture and the Poochera Project itself is now the Great White Kaolin Project. Naming recognises the world-class ‘white’ and ‘bright’ attributes of the source material suited for the ceramics industry, as expressed in the product brand name, “Great White CRMTM”
The individual deposits and prospects are named as follows: