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ChemX Materials secures HPA process patent as pilot plant looms

Updated: Mar 27

ChemX Materials process engineer Syed Zaidi and chief executive officer Peter Lee at the company’s laboratory in Perth. Credit: File.

ChemX Materials has been granted a vital patent in Australia for its 100 per cent-owned proprietary disruptive “HiPurA” high-purity alumina (HPA) process as it eyes commercialisation options.

The granted patent opens the pathway to global commercialisation of the company’s scalable and modular system, which it plans to take to pilot testing with plant commissioning planned for the second half of this year.

In November last year, ChemX revealed that its HPA micro-plant in Perth’s southern suburb of O’Connor had delivered 99.99 per cent pure HPA using its now patented HiPurA process. This level of purity is designated “4N”, referring to the number of nines in the purity measurement.

4N HPA is considered high-grade and is required to service the electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage markets where it is used as a coating on the battery separator to improve safety and performance. HPA is also heavily relied upon in the synthetic sapphire markets, in addition to the manufacture of LEDs, semi-conductors and optical lenses.

Notably, the company’s micro-plant testing in November gave up results close to hitting the revered 5N purity mark, with the best result going 99.996 per cent purity.

On the back of micro-plant success, management says it is accelerating the construction of its 24 tonnes per year pilot plant and is on-track for commissioning in the second half of this year. It will deliver HPA samples for commercial qualification with strategic customers.

In a drive to get its pilot plant up and running as soon as possible, the company has taken the bold step of buying its own high-precision analytical equipment to reduce its reliance on labs, which are plagued with long sample assay wait times.

ChemX is extremely pleased with the award of the Australian patent on our innovative HPA flowsheet and now provides further formal recognition to the uniqueness of our 100%-owned game-changing technology. With the increased focus in the development of energy efficient critical materials processes in Australia, this patent now places ChemX in a strongly competitive position with regard to ongoing development and the commercialisation of its high purity group of products. ChemX Materials chief executive officer Peter Lee.

Management says the HiPurA process is advantageous because it can be located close to end users and is independent of any mine production, allowing for fast construction. The infrastructure is also scalable and can expand as demand for the process grows.

As well is its HPA business in Perth, ChemX is also establishing a position in the high-purity manganese (HPM) market using feedstock from its Jamieson Tank deposit, 100km south-west of Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia.

In September last year, the company revealed a maiden resource of 13.1 million tonnes at 10 per cent aluminium oxide and 5.7 per cent manganese at the deposit.

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 HPM battery-grade products, in addition to the HPA.

Management says other deposits on its ground in the Whyalla area, known as Kelly Tank, Bunora and Bunora East, have thrown up drilling results that suggest there is potential for significant tonnage – in particular, Kelly Tank which has an exploration target of 55 million tonnes to 130 million tonnes of the kaolin clay that is typically rich in aluminium.

In 2022, ChemX secured a non-binding memorandum of understanding with United States-based company 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.

With the Australian patent signed and sealed for its HiPurA process, ChemX will now be entering the boardroom with new confidence that its intellectual property is protected as it searches for parties interested in the technology.

ASX punters hopped on board the ChemX train this morning, giving the company’s share price a lift to hit 7.8c, up more than 18 per cent from Friday’s close of 6.6c.

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