Tasmania’s bauxite miner has announced a key appointment as it pushes towards producing lucrative aluminium fluoride through an innovative refining process.

The Australian Bauxite Limited project is expected to lead to a production plant at Bell Bay, north-west of Launceston.

That would provide about 50 direct jobs early on, increasing to about 78 when a second shift was added.

Total direct employment would reach about 300 if the company added a potential four further production modules to the original plant.

CSIRO senior principal research leader Mark Cooksey will take six months’ leave from the national science agency to help Australian Bauxite Limited subsidiary ALCORE Limited commercialise the development of aluminium fluoride production.

The substance is used as an ingredient in aluminium smelters.

Australian Bauxite said ALCORE had been trialling chemical refining of aluminium-rich material, including bauxite, into aluminium fluoride.

“ALCORE’s results have exceeded expectations and a production strategy is now firming up,” Australian Bauxite said in its December quarterly report.

It said ALCORE would be the first Australian supplier of aluminium fluoride to Australasian aluminium smelters and for export.

Australian Bauxite said industrial sites at Bell Bay were being investigated.

Managing director and chief executive Ian Levy said Bell Bay was a perfect place to build a high-tech facility.

The company said Dr Cooksey “comes to ALCORE with an impressive history in research, engineering and commercialising new developments in the aluminium industry since 1997”.

Bauxite mining at Bald Hill.

Bauxite mining at Bald Hill.

“He has worked closely with the aluminium and other metal industries and his significant experience in commercialising new technologies and processes will be a solid base for ALCORE to expand into the next phase of development.”

Mr Levy said Dr Cooksey was joining ALCORE at an opportune time as it developed from laboratory research to large-scale production.

“ALCORE needs the highly skilled and experienced leadership that Mark can provide,” Mr Levy said.

“These are exciting times for Australian Bauxite as our bauxite team has begun the approval and development process for our flagship bauxite mine at Binjour in Queensland and our technology subsidiary, ALCORE, develops the ALCORE refining process to make aluminium fluoride for sale to aluminium smelters.”

Australian Bauxite has various deposits in Tasmania and more in Queensland and New South Wales.

It developed the Bald Hill Mine, near Campbell Town.

*Original article online at https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6603448/australian-bauxite-nets-key-player-for-aluminium-fluoride-quest/