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ChemX Materials eyes pilot plant after delivering high-purity alumina

Updated: Mar 27

Operations manager Russell Vallis at ChemX Materials’ laboratory in Perth’s southern suburb of O’Connor. Credit: File

ChemX Materials has shifted its focus from its micro-plant operation to the design and delivery of the company’s high-purity alumina pilot plant after achieving 99.996 purity using its “HiPurA” process.

The plant is now on track for first commissioning in next year’s first quarter and with the purity capability consolidated within the design, the next stage of development is the procurement of longer lead items.

Having identified external laboratory turnaround times as a key project constraint during micro-plant operations, management says it has purchased additional high-precision analytical capability, with a second high-purity instrument expected to be delivered this week.

The latest purchase is Thermofisher’s next-generation, inductively-coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) that provides rapid-trace level analysis for control and experimental testwork within the pilot plant production.

Just last month, the company confirmed the vital “4N” (99.99 per cent) product purity in alumina from its trial micro-plant in Perth’s southern suburb of O’Connor. Independent testing confirmed 4N in the analysis of a suite of 66 elements in alumina, with total impurity levels of 61 parts per million, 66ppm and 99ppm and a best result of just 39ppm total impurities (99.996 per cent purity) – which is close to the highly-desired 5N.

HPA is sold in either powder or pellet form and is graded upon its purity.

The HPA micro-plant uses the company’s proprietary HiPurA process that converts aluminous chemical feedstocks through selective refining to HPA. The HiPurA technology is currently the subject of an international patent application, lodged by the company in July last year.

ChemX is aiming to achieve the delivery of 4N and potentially 5N HPA products for the electric vehicle battery separator and synthetic sapphire markets, LEDs, semi-conductors and optical lenses. Operations manager Russell Vallis will continue to lead the HPA development program forward as management advances the pursuit of 5N HPA.

In September, the company revealed a maiden manganese resource of 13.1 million tonnes at 5.7 per cent manganese at its Jamieson Tank deposit, 150km west of South Australia’s Port of Whyalla. The company says testwork on the resource has shown “excellent” upgrade characteristics through simple gravity and magnetic separation and it will now complete an internal scoping study on the production of high-purity manganese (HPM) battery-grade products.

It is investigating the use of Jamieson Tank manganese ore as a feedstock for a HPM sulphate monohydrate production facility to be located in Whyalla, which boasts an abundance of renewable energy in the region within a tier-one sovereign jurisdiction, offering potential customers superior environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials.

In parallel with the SA production option, ChemX last year secured a non-binding memorandum of understanding with United States-based C4V – a leader in battery technology involved in some of the world’s biggest gigafactory developments – to progress its HPM project and work towards offtake agreements following the qualification process.

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