A Tasmanian bauxite miner has boosted the value of its projects by developing new businesses, chairman and former state premier Paul Lennon says.
“In addition to developing its second bauxite mine project in Tasmania, ABx (Australian Bauxite Limited) has substantially enhanced the value of its bauxite projects by developing two high-technology businesses that will deliver high-priced aluminium fluoride for aluminium smelters and lithium-ion batteries and the discovery of the ideal type of rare earth elements within ABx’s Tasmanian bauxite projects,” Mr Lennon said in an address prepared for the company’s virtual annual meeting on Wednesday.
He said the company had finished rehabilitating its first mine, at Bald Hill near Campbell Town, “to better than pre-mining land value”.
“ABx is moving to the nearby Fingal Rail project, which is larger and better quality bauxite.
“ABx is keen to deliver Fingal Rail bauxite into two contracts by late 2021, early 2022.”
Mr Lennon said Fingal Rail could grow to deliver more revenue than Bald Hill’s annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $500,000 and $2 million in past years.
He said 87 per cent-owned subsidiary Alcore Limited achieved a world first this year by producing aluminium fluoride from smelter waste products, which improved profitability, provided security of supply and helped smelters improve environmental performance.
“Australia is the only major aluminium producer without an aluminium fluoride plant and has relied on imports, mainly from China, which have recently stopped,” Mr Lennon said.
“Operating margins for a 60,000 tonnes aluminium fluoride plant are estimated to be in the order of $50 million per annum at current prices of aluminium fluoride and projected operating costs, supplying Australasian smelters and exporting to several known smelters.”
Alcore aims to build its production plant at Bell Bay, with an investment decision expected by the end of 2021.
Mr Lennon said Australian Bauxite would start an extensive drilling program at its expanded rare earth prospect area.
“ABx has also made application for a large exploration lease in Northern Tasmania to secure control of the large structure that appears to host the mineralisation and we expect it to be granted because our targets are all on land that was used (and) cleared for hardwood plantations and will not impact on high-value land or uninhabited areas,” he said.
“Our exploration is targeting deposits of super-magnet rare earths needed for electric vehicles and can be quickly developed by leaching technology at low cost.”
*Original article online at https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/7340038/high-technology-businesses-boosting-value-paul-lennon/