Kalium Lakes has steered away from its traditional potash focus and taken on a new approach by signing a term sheet with emerging magnesium producer EcoMag.
As a result of signing the term sheet, both companies have committed to jointly undertake a feasibility study to evaluate the commercial extraction of magnesium from residual brines produced at Beyondie sulphate of potash project (BSOPP) in Western Australia.
The term sheet follows successful pilot trials by EcoMag of the residual brines from the BSOPP’s pilot evaporation ponds during 2018-2019.
EcoMag’s trials used a high magnesium content of 9 per cent feed brine to produce 99.5 per cent hydrated magnesium carbonate (HMC) and relatively low levels of impurities and a recovery rate in excess of 95 per cent.
The potential joint venture is proposed to extract high purity HMC as a precursor compound to producing magnesium oxides and hydroxides, which have current market prices between $US1000 ($1476) and $US2000 per tonne.
Kalium Lakes managing director Brett Hazelden said maximising shareholder value had resulted in its team continually investigating solutions to take full advantage of the resource at Beyondie.
“We see strong synergies with our sulphate of potash core business if we can leverage the technical expertise of EcoMag to extract and sell a magnesium product from our residual brine stream,” Hazelden said.
“The proposed joint venture would utilise our base infrastructure, including a gas pipeline, gas power station, accommodation village, access road and airstrip that has been constructed with Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility support.”
With magnesium identified by the Australian Government as one of six critical minerals important for industrial progress and emerging technologies, the Beyondie SOP project has been granted a major project status by the government.
EcoMag chief executive officer Tony Crimmins said the magnesium extraction would involve a separate, secondary process.
“We will recycle the residual brines from the potash evaporation ponds to produce a material that is sold for use in cleaning up the environment, both air and water, as well as in additional environmentally friendly products,” he said.
Crimmins also stated that during the time the term sheet is in place (being 12 months).
“EcoMag has agreed it will not enter into any arrangements with any other producers or prospective producer of potash within Western Australian in relation to the production of any of these products and Kalium Lakes has agreed not to enter into arrangements with any other entity to produce the products,” Crimmins said.
Kalium Lakes is primarily known for its potash project, which is being developed to initially produce 90,000 tonnes of SOP a year before ramping up to 180,000 tonnes for domestic and international sale.