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Big vanadium resource upgrade for Critical Minerals

Inspecting core at the Critical Minerals Group’s Lindfield vanadium project. Credit: File

Critical Minerals Group has delivered a major increase in grade and tonnes for its Lindfield vanadium project near Queensland’s Julia Creek.

The company’s mineral resource estimate (MRE) has grown to 363 million tonnes at 0.43 per cent vanadium pentoxide – a 10 per cent increase in grade and a massive 73 per cent increase in tonnage.

To put the shallow nature of the ore and simple, free-dig open-pit mining into perspective, it should be noted that 138 million tonnes at 0.46 per cent vanadium pentoxide sits in the surface-to-10m free-digging zone. A further 133 million tonnes lies between the next 10-to-20m section.

The resource also contains 4.8 per cent aluminium oxide, which is being assessed as a feedstock to produce high-purity alumina (HPA) for the lithium-ion battery industry. The Lindfield MRE boasts a world-class scale that also includes an indicated resource of 254 million tonnes grading 0.44 per cent vanadium pentoxide.

Critical says it is important to note that its MRE report identifies that a major portion of the resource is either from surface or near to it and that the ore also represents a higher grade overall. It believes that indicates the potential for low overburden removal cost and a simple pit-shell design, with production able to start from an initial high-grade zone.

The MRE identifies a high-grade zone of 3 million tonnes at 0.58 per cent vanadium pentoxide in the weathered zone, which has 129 million tonnes grading 0.48 per cent.

A 73% tonnage increase to 363mt, along with a 10% grade increase of V₂O₅ in this upgraded MRE is a very pleasing increase for our Lindfield Project. Furthermore, the MRE report shows that the higher grade V2O5 mineralisation sits very shallow, from 0m to 30m and is mineralised from surface which means that there is very limited overburden to consider in our future mining plan and pit shell design work. With this new MRE for the Lindfield Project we are further encouraged to continue to advance this project to development. Critical Minerals Group managing director Scott Drelincourt

The company says the higher grades in the weathered zone adds further justification to its development of Lindfield. The soft, higher-grade weathered zone begins from surface, resulting in low strip ratios and simple digging without the need for blasting.

The weathered zone beneficiates, or upgrades, with treatment better than the fresh zone. Those factors are expected to have a positive impact on the overall operational expenditure.

Critical says its upgraded MRE strongly positions Lindfield for an upcoming scoping study. It shows that the aluminium oxide content of the resource amounts to more than 17 million tonnes, which could add considerable value to the project if metallurgical testing demonstrates that it can be extracted with simple processes alongside vanadium production and is amenable for HPA production.

The company will conduct further drilling to maximise its resource upgrade to the higher certainty reserve category in a bid to enhance the value of its project. It believes drilling will yield positive results because the Lindfield ore shows high lateral continuity.

Geoscience Australia said nearly all the world’s vanadium is derived from mineral concentrates – in particular, vanadium-rich and titanium-rich magnetite separated from mined ore, or as a by-product of steel-making slags. The United States Geological Survey isolates China, South Africa and Russia as the world’s main producers of vanadium, although Australia has the third-biggest resource of the hard, silver-grey metallic element.

Critical believes its soft oxidised vanadium deposits have considerable mining and processing advantages over traditional vanadium-rich hard-rock magnetite deposits, providing for less-complex processing and lower-capital expenditure and operating costs.

The world’s biggest undeveloped magnetite vanadium deposits include Steelpoortdrift in South Africa, with 680 million tonnes at 0.7 per cent vanadium pentoxide, and Vanadium Corp’s Canadian deposits with 215 million tonnes grading 1.3 per cent vanadium pentoxide. Their planned metallurgical process indicates the vanadium reports to the magnetite concentrate and would require further processing for extraction.

That supports Critical Minerals’ claims of the less-complex processing requirements and lower costs at Lindfield.

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