Completion of metallurgical test programme confirms suitability of conventional RKEF technology for the Araguaia Nickel Project
TORONTO, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Horizonte Minerals Plc, (AIM: HZM, TSX: HZM) (‘Horizonte’ or ‘the
Company’) the exploration and development company focused in Brazil, is pleased to
announce the completion of a comprehensive metallurgical test programme
at the Company’s 100% owned Araguaia Nickel Project (‘Araguaia’)
located south of the Carajas mining district in northern Brazil.
-- Metallurgical testwork is now complete and has confirmed the suitability of the conventional Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace ('RKEF') process for the treatment of the Araguaia Nickel ore to produce ferronickel -- RKEF process is a proven 60 year old technology with 19 plants operational worldwide today -- Studies established operational conditions suitable for both the kiln and electric furnace in an RKEF operation - data will feed into a Pre-Feasibility Study ('PFS') to be undertaken in the second half of 2013 -- A market study undertaken for Horizonte by CRU Strategies has confirmed that the targeted grade (15-17%) for Araguaia ferronickel product meets the requirements of stainless steel plants
Horizonte CEO Jeremy Martin said, “Our metallurgical test programme at
Araguaia has returned excellent results and its completion is a major
de-risking milestone for the Company. This work confirms the decision
to proceed with the Pre-Feasibility Study based on conventional RKEF
processing through the application of the tried and tested technology,
currently used across some 19 plants around the world for nickel
“There are a number of nickel projects out there today that due to the
chemical composition of the deposit or isolated locations with limited
access to power, are not amenable to the RKEF or other proven processes
and as such have to look at new technologies many of which are not
commercially proven. This is the major difference between Araguaia and
many of its peer group.
“The next step is to award the PFS contract, for which we are in the
final stages and commence the study with a view to completion in 2014.”
The metallurgical test work undertaken over the last 18 months
incorporated several different test programmes completed at a number of
world-class metallurgical laboratories. The work included:
-- A series of laboratory tests designed to establish the suitability of the ore for rotary kiln processing by FLSmidth at its Bethlehem, PA, USA laboratories; -- Supplemented by additional bench scale test work on briquette testing at K.R. Komarek of Wood Dale, Illinois, USA; -- Work on agglomeration by Feeco International Inc. of Green Bay, WI, USA; and -- Smelting testing was undertaken at the laboratories of Xstrata Process Support in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, supplemented by additional work on the characteristics of the slag produced by smelting Araguaia laterite and the slag melting temperature at Kingston Process Metallurgy of Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
The overall objective of the programme was to determine the suitability
of the RKEF process for the processing of Araguaia ore.
Testing for rotary kiln operation
These tests included the following:
-- Chemical analysis -- Particle size distribution using wet and dry screening techniques -- Tumble testing (modified ASTM E279 test) -- Ore thermal analysis -- Ore sintering and reduction testing -- Agglomeration testing -- Production of briquettes
The testwork was completed on two blends of laterite, one a blend of
limonite, transition and saprolite ore and a second of transition and
saprolite only. The blends were made up in the same proportions that
laterite types occur in the insitu mineral resource. A total of
approximately 6,000 kg of laterite material was sent to FLSmidth.
The test work showed the following:
The material in each of the blends was found to be characterised by a
fine particle size when tested under wet sieve conditions, but
considerably less fine when tested in the dry state, corresponding more
to conditions in a kiln operation. The dry particle size distribution
was also found to be comparable to several laterite ores currently
processed in commercial RKEF operations worldwide.
The Araguaia ore particles demonstrated a high degree of binding,
producing robust agglomerates considerably resistant to degradation and
dusting, and therefore suitable for the production process.
Agglomeration testing of the as-received laterite ore showed that the
natural properties of the material lent itself to good agglomeration
behaviour, which is beneficial in reducing fines generation during
Bench scale briquette testwork showed that briquettes with good
resistance to attrition could be produced if this approach is
Thermal tests on the samples suggested a kiln operation allowing for a
calcine temperature in the range of 800(0)C to 825(0)C would be suitable for the Araguaia ore to avoid sintering (partial
melting of the ore and adhering to the sides of the kiln). This is 50(0)C to 100(0)C lower that some other RKEF operations but still within the range of
satisfactory operational parameters. Under these conditions, a good
degree of solid-state iron reduction was obtained, reducing the amount
of iron reduction required in the electric furnace. The nickel
reduction in the kiln was lower than some other RKEF operations however
the lower observed degree of solid-state nickel reduction would be
compensated in electric furnace smelting to give the required grade of
ferronickel (15 to 17% Ni).
Overall, the test results on Araguaia ore confirmed operating conditions
for reduction treatment in the rotary kiln and that the Araguaia ore is
suited for rotary kiln processing in an RKEF system provided that
proper agglomeration provisions are adapted and that a lower calcine
temperature and pre-reduction levels are considered in the electric
Laboratory smelting tests
As previously reported (6 March 2012), laboratory smelting tests carried
out at the laboratories of Xstrata Process Support in Sudbury, Ontario,
Canada showed that smelting Araguaia laterites can produce ferronickel
alloy and a low nickel slag. The testwork was carried out on a blend of
limonite, transition and saprolite and a transition/saprolite blend
with equally acceptable results.
Horizonte ores have a high SiO(2)/MgO ratio, in a similar range to that reported during the early years
of operation at the BHB-Billiton Cerro Matoso ferronickel plant.
Kingston Process Metallurgy of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, examined the
characteristics of the slag produced by smelting Horizonte laterite in
more detail. This work mapped a range of slag compositions using the
FACT thermodynamic database and also determined the slag melting points
using the TGA/DTA technique. Measured slag melting points were in the
range of 1,400(0)C, depending on the specific SiO(2)/MgO ratio and the level of Al(2)O(3) in the slag. The measured results were found to be generally consistent
with those predicated by the FACT database.
These results confirmed the electric furnace smelting conditions when
producing a 15-17% Ni grade of ferronickel, and confirmed the
suitability of the RKEF process for the Araguaia ore. A market study
undertaken for Horizonte by CRU Strategies has also confirmed the
potential market for this grade of ferronickel to meet the requirements
of stainless steel plants. As a precursor to the PFS a trade-off study
will be completed to consider the optimum sizing of the RKEF plant to
be used in the PFS. This is likely to recommend the standard
configuration of twin line kiln and furnace as adopted at Anglo
American’s Barro Alto nickel mine in Brazil which allows for increased
annual throughput and subsequent increase in ferronickel production.
Dr. Phillip Mackey P.Eng., Ph.D., FCIM, is the Qualified Person as
defined by NI 43- 101 for the metallurgical testing programme on the
Araguaia Nickel Project. Dr. Mackey has reviewed and approved the
contents of this news release as it relates to the results of the
preliminary metallurgical testing programme.
About Horizonte Minerals:
Horizonte Minerals plc is an AIM and TSX listed exploration and
development company focused in Brazil which wholly owns the advanced
Araguaia nickel project located to the south of the Carajas mineral
district of northern Brazil. The project currently has an estimated
mineral resource of 39.3Mt grading 1.39% Ni (Indicated) and 60.9Mt at
1.22% Ni (Inferred) at a 0.95% nickel cut-off.
The Company has completed a Preliminary Economic Assessment at Araguaia
that illustrates robust economics based on low strip ratio with good
infrastructure. It is Horizonte’s intention to complete a Pre
Feasibility at Araguaia to further prove the economics of the project.
In addition it has support from its major shareholder, Teck Resources.
The company is well funded to accelerate the development of its core
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SOURCE Horizonte Minerals plc