Following a February 11 decision by the U.S. District Court ruling that an environmental group’s request for an injunction to delay work at a 2,600-acre mineral sands property near Coos Bay, Oregon, USA, was without merit, Australia-based Industrial Minerals Corp.—through its subsidiary Oregon Resources Corp. (ORC)—officially claimed status as the only U.S. domestic producer of foundry-grade chromite.
According to a press statement released by the company, 90% of mined chromite is typically used to make ferrochrome, a corrosion-resistant alloy of steel and chrome. But only low-carbon ferrochrome can be used to make stainless steel. And due to the various costs associated with producing low-carbon ferrochrome, its price is usually more than $4,000/ton.
The company said its chromite at Coos Bay, according to third party analysis, has attributes that can significantly lower this cost: it possesses very low carbon content compared with the rest of the world’s chromite, most of which is mined in Australia and South Africa; and, it also has low silica content, a favorable CR/Fe ratio, uniform sizing, and is free-dig to a depth of 60 ft—in other words, excavation requires no drilling, blasting or crushing.
Because of these characteristics, IDM said it believes that its Coos Bay chromite can produce low-carbon ferrochrome for $2,100 per ton, including expenses. And, based on historical pricing, this material could sell for $7,000 per ton on a long-term supply contract.
Monthly chromite revenue of $4 million from the site will commence this summer, said IDM, and could continue for more than 20 years.
IDM is also attempting to recover industrial garnet at Coos Bay; as much as 12,000 tons of it per year, an amount equal to 80% of the total garnet mined annually in the U.S. The majority of industrial garnet is used as an abrasive for such applications as optical lens grinding, plate-glass grinding, scratch-free lapping of semiconductors, hydrocutting of marble and granite, and as a filtration medium in water-purification systems.
IDM also expects Coos Bay will produce 3,700 tons of zircon a year, as well as up to 50,000 tons per year of high-iron ilmenite, a material used for specialist foundry-related applications.