Red River Refurbishing Thalanga Processing Plant

Red River Resources has begun early-stage refurbishment work on the processing plant at its Thalanga zinc redevelopment project in Queensland, Australia. The project is located approximately 60 km west of Charters Towers in central Queensland and 200 km southwest of the port of Townsville. The plant has been on care and maintenance since 2012. Red River acquired the project from Kagara Ltd., which was in liquidation, in 2014.

The Thalanga processing plant can produce copper, lead, and zinc concentrates. Nominal throughput capacity is 600,000 metric tons per year (mt/y).

Red River released a “Restart Study” assessing the potential restart of the Thalanga project in November 2015. The project has a low preproduction capital cost of A$17.2 million, a low operating cost, and a six-month timeline to production. Annual average production is estimated at 21,400 mt of zinc, 3,600 mt of copper, 5,000 mt of lead, 2,000 oz of gold, and 370,000 oz of silver in concentrates over an initial mine life of five years, with potential to extend the mine life.

Red River Managing Director Mel Palancian said, “We are pleased to have commenced work on the refurbishment of the Thalanga processing plant, using funds raised in the recent highly oversubscribed A$8.9 million fundraising. This work forms an important step towards the full restart of the Thalanga zinc project and will enable us to further tighten the budget and timeline for the remaining restart work at the Thalanga plant.”

The Thalanga Restart Study assumes that Red River will sequentially mine the project’s West 45, Far West and Waterloo deposits. The planned mine designs and schedules are based on industry-standard mechanized underground mining techniques. Life-of-mine total cash costs per lb of payable zinc produced, net of by-product credits, are estimated at U.S.$0.73.

Red River continues aggressive exploration across the Thalanga zinc project.

Red River Resources reports work is under way on renovating the 600,000-mt/y-capacity Thalanga zinc mill, which has been inactive since 2012. (Photo: Red River Resources)
Red River Resources reports work is under way on renovating the 600,000-mt/y-capacity Thalanga zinc mill, which has been inactive since 2012. (Photo: Red River Resources)

Clean TeQ Considering NSW Scandium Project

Clean TeQ Holdings reported that a feasibility study of its Syerston scandium project 370 km west of Sydney, New South Wales, indicates the potential to produce 49.2 mt/y of scandium oxide (Sc2O3) over an initial mine life of 20 years. The current global supply of Sc2O3 is 10 to 15 mt/y at prices ranging from $2,000 to $3,000/kg. Steady-state cash operating costs for the Syerston project are estimated at $444/kg.

Clean TeQ anticipates that wider availability of scandium may lead to substantially increased use of the metal in light-weight aluminum-scandium alloys and in solid oxide fuel cells.

The Syerston feasibility study was based on a plant with design capacity to process 64,000 mt/y of feed from the project’s near-surface resource. The flow-sheet includes a high-pressure acid leach circuit and Clean TeQ’s proprietary resin-in-pulp technology for scandium recovery, followed by purification. Time to construct the plant and infrastructure is estimated at 18 months. An 18-month commissioning and ramp up period would follow, with design throughput and production capacity forecast to be achieved in two years.

Capital cost to develop the Syerston scandium project is estimated at A$100 million, including an A$4.5 million contingency. The estimate includes power generation, fuel storage and handling, reagent supply and storage, water supply from Syerston’s established borefield, and all offices, workshops, warehouses, and supporting infrastructure required to operate the facility.

The processing plant would produce 99.9% Sc2O3. The testing regime included operation of a pilot plant that produced Sc2O3 samples for customer validation and qualification and ore variability testing. Potential customer counterparties confirmed that the Sc2O3 samples met their required chemical specifications.

In addition to its plans to develop the Syerston Sc2O3 project, Clean TeQ has a prefeasibility study underway to assess the potential for a large-scale nickel-cobalt project at Syerston to produce nickel and cobalt sulphate products with scandium oxide as a byproduct. The deposit geology is such that the dedicated scandium project considered in the feasibility study and the larger nickel/cobalt project have the potential to be developed independently of each other.

In the event that the preferred development option is construction of a large-scale nickel-cobalt project, Clean TeQ expects that the bulk of the engineering and design work completed for the scandium feasibility study can be incorporated directly into the larger project.