May milestones at Meckering

1 Jun 2016

The flow of good news continued for us in May, with several key milestones passed in our plan to produce 99.99% pure (4N) high purity alumina (HPA).

The first was an agreement with the owners of the land that encompasses our wholly-owned deposit of alumina-rich kaolin clay at Meckering in Western Australia.

The kaolin is feedstock for our planned 4,000 tonnes a year Malaysian HPA plant. The HPA will be used to manufacture sapphire crystals from which LED substrates, scratch proof glass and more will be made. HPA is also used as a coating for lithium-ion battery separators – an exciting and growing application linked directly to the boom in renewable energy battery storage and electric vehicles. 

At Meckering, the landowner had previously objected to the granting of the mining lease but we reached a settlement that saw the objection dismissed and Altech was granted an option to purchase the 94 hectares of land, including the area subject to our mining lease. Consequently the mining lease application was free to proceed to grant and was subsequently granted by the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).

Also flowing from the news of our mining lease grant was the sale of an exploration licence that we held at Meckering to Greek company Dana Shipping & Trading for a total of $2 million. The exploration licence was surplus to our requirements as the Meckering mining lease is estimated to contain about 11 million tonnes of kaolin mineral resources, representing more than 250 years of feedstock supply for our proposed HPA plant at Johor in Malaysia.

With the mining lease granted we are now able to submit a mining proposal and a mine closure plan. We expect DMP approval of the mining proposal and mine closure plan to be relatively straightforward and once these are approved, mining operations at Meckering will be ready to commence – subject to funding.

The plan at Meckering is to mine about 120,000 tonnes of kaolin once every three years in a short two-month mining campaign, stockpile the raw kaolin, load it into standard shipping containers at the rate of about 770 tonnes a week, and transport it to Johor through the port of Fremantle.

Thanks to May’s development, this plan is much closer to fruition.