Owendale scandium and platinum mine, located in central New South Wales, Australia, is one of the world’s highest grade scandium deposits and is expected to become the first scandium producer in the country.
The project is being developed by Platina Resources at an estimated capital cost of $54m. It is expected to produce 30t of scandium at 99.9% purity over a mine life of 70 years.
The mine is currently in the advanced exploration stage. The definitive feasibility study for the project is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Location and geology of Owendale mine
The Owendale scandium and platinum mine is located approximately 350km away of Sydney.
The scandium and platinum mineralisation is hosted in both ultramafic and intermediate intrusive rocks, which start from the surface and extend up to a depth of 50m. The scandium hosted in laterite is developed in Alaskan type intrusive complexes.
Scandium occurs in the clinopyroxenites, while platinum is found in the form of isoferroplatinum.
Owendale scandium and platinum project reserves
The measured, indicated and inferred scandium reserves are estimated to be 33.7 million tonnes (Mt) at a cut-off grade of 385 parts per million(ppm).
The measured, indicated and inferred cobalt reserves are estimated to be 17.6Mt grading 0.15% cobalt.
Mining and ore processing at Owendale
The Owendale scandium and platinum projectis planned to be mined through open-cut mining techniques. Mining is expected to commence from small open-pits with no drilling or blasting planned.
“The Owendale scandium and platinum mine is located approximately 350km away of Sydney.”
The ore will be mined and stockpiled for blending, and the blended material will be transported via road to an off-site processing facility.
Platina Resources successfully completed the pilot plant for testing the ore in June 2018. The ore is recovered from the mined stockpiles, crushed to 20mm and ground in a closed circuit ball mill to a P80 size of 75µm followed by thickening
The ore goes through High Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) process comprising two-stage preheat, autoclave and two-stage pressure letdown circuit.Thickening and filtration is carried out to produce a pregnant leach liquor (PLS).
Solvent extraction following by precipitation and filtration is carried out to recover scandium from the PLS. The filtered scandium solids undergo purification and calcination followed by drumming to produce the final scandium oxide product.
Partial neutralisation, thickening and filtration are performed produce partially neutralised liquor. Sulphide precipitation of nickel and cobalt followed by thickening and filtering is carried out to produce a mixed sulphide precipitate and barren solution, which is neutralised to produce neutralised slurry.
The slurry is thickened and filtered to produce tailings, which are transported back to the mine.
Owendale scandium and platinum mine infrastructure
The mine can be accessed through an existing road, which will enable transportation of the produced ore from the site.
The property also includes buildings, ponds, concrete pads and a house that will be used as the initial office and site accommodation. A drilling programme is also planned to be carried to determine the quality of the groundwater, which will be used in the mining operations.
A dedicated rail facility is also planned at Owendale, which will connect with main east-west rail line running from Perth and Sydney.
Ausenco Services, a consulting, engineering and project delivery firm based in Australia,was contracted to carry out the definite feasibility study in March 2018.