Project developer Neometals Ltd (ASX: NMT) has executed a collaboration agreement with unlisted Scandinavian mineral development company, Critical Metals Ltd to jointly evaluate the feasibility of constructing a recycling facility to recover and process high- grade vanadium products from vanadium-bearing steel by-product in Scandinavia.
Managing Director, Chris Reed, said Neometals will fund and manage the evaluation activities, including the completion of Class 5, 4 and 3 AACE engineering cost and feasibility studies up to consideration of an investment decision, which, if positive, will lead to a 50:50 incorporated joint venture. Neometals is Critical’s largest shareholder and holds 15.4% of its issued capital.
Critical has executed a conditional Slag Supply Agreement with SSAB EMEA AB and SSAB Europe Oy, subsidiaries of SSAB, a steel producer that operates steel mills in Scandinavia. Slag is a by-product of SSAB’s steel making operations.
The Slag Supply Agreement provides a secure basis for the evaluation of a potential Slag Recycling Facility capable of processing 200,000 tonnes of Slag per annum without the need to build a mine and concentrator like existing primary producers.
Neometals has extensive experience in the metallurgical processing of vanadium bearing concentrates from its Barrambie Titanium-Vanadium project and has, through a wholly owned subsidiary Avanti Materials Ltd, developed a proprietary hydrometallurgical (leaching) flowsheet.
The flowsheet utilises conventional equipment and is subject to two Provisional Patent Applications, tailored to recover high-purity vanadium chemicals from Slag.
Extensive due-diligence test-work completed by Neometals’ contractor, Strategic Metallurgy in Perth on multiple SSAB Slag samples has confirmed up to 80% vanadium recovery from leaching under mild conditions.
The hydrometallurgical leaching process path has significant operational, cost and risk advantages over the traditional pyrometallurgical (salt-roast) process route, with eco-friendly hydroelectric powered leaching and solvent extraction and refining circuits replacing traditional large kilns that are fired by natural gas or coal.
“Neometals has been working with Critical for almost a year to secure this opportunity,” Mr Reed said.
“We are delighted that Critical has been able to agree conditional supply with SSAB and we look forward to working together to evaluate this opportunity to commercialise these stockpiles of vanadium-bearing steel slag.
“We have supreme confidence in the consistency of the materials with more than 30 years of continuous operating history at Lulea. The risk/return benefits of not having to develop a mine and concentrator cannot be overstated, particularly in the current and foreseeable financial market.”