The Western Australian and South Australian Governments have approved Centrex Metals’ application for grant funding towards molten salt mineral processing research based around the Oxley Potassium project.
According to the company, grant funding will be provided to the University of South Australia (UniSA) by both governments to expand current molten salt research for solar energy applications into mineral processing.
“The specific research program will be to develop a minerals processing circuit to leach, extract and purify metals from silicate minerals in a solely molten salt environments, without the need for subsequent aqueous processing,” Centrex told the ASX on Wednesday.
“Oxley will be the basis of the research targeting potassium from potassium feldspar, and alkali metal silicate mineral (KAISi3O8).”
Centrex has already developed a process route for its Oxley potassium deposit that is a mix of molten salt processing for conversion of potassium to a leachable form, followed by extraction and purification in a low temperature aqueous circuit.
“The process route is focused on the production of high value specialty fertilisers such as potassium nitrate or potassium sulphate, and is the basis of a Scoping study nearing completion by Centrex,” reads the statement.
According to the company, if the new research program is successful at UniSa, the ability to undertake all processing steps in a molten salt environment could significantly lower processing energy, water and capital costs, to allow consideration of and expansion of the project into lower bulk potassium chloride feriliser.
The research is proposed in three stages over approximately three years, with funding for each stage to be based on successful completion of the preceding stage. Funding is now committed for the first of two stages of research.
“The Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) has committed $246,000 of grant funding to the first two stages,” it says in the statement.
“The Mining & Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence (COE) of South Australia has committed $28,000 of grant funding to the first stage, with a further funding application to be made at stage completion. Centrex and UniSa have committed $190,000 and $116,000 cash respectively to the first two stages. “
Stage 1 of the program will provide proof of concept for the behavior of pore to be processes in a molten salt environment, stage 2 will seek to design, build and test the required processing equipment components for the molten salt circuit, while stage 3 o the program will seek to construct pilot plant to demonstrate the technology.
Centrex will have exclusive rights to the technology developed within the fertiliser industry.