PERTH (miningweekly.com) - A scoping study by ASX-listed Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) into an initial 5 200 t/y metals plant in Korea, has demonstrated the feasibility for the project.
The company is hoping to independently produce key critical metals, focusing on rare earths, titanium and zirconium metals, alloys and powders.
The internal scoping study estimated that the project would require a capital investment of between $35-million and $45-million, and could deliver annual revenues of between $180-million and $190-million, and annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of between $45-million and $50-million.
The plant could be incrementally expanded to a capacity of over 16 000 t/y by 2024.
The board of ASM has now approved a $1.5-million investment into detailed design engineering for the plant, which will provide a fully engineered scope of works and further refine capital estimates, allowing the company to make a final investment decision by June this year.
Construction for the plant is targeted to start in the third quarter of 2021, and first production is targeted for the third quarter of 2022.
“Our ability to commercially produce high purity critical metals for advanced technology manufacturers in Korea gives ASM an excellent foundation to be an independent fully integrated critical metals producer globally,” said ASM MD David Woodall.
“With the $4.5-million grant in 2020 from the Korean government and the excellent work and milestones delivered by our Ziron Tech team, we are confident about our strategy to integrate into Korea’s critical metals sector.
“Korea is Phase 1. Once complete, this will provide a template for future ASM metals plants in other regions. We’ll now continue to progress our mine-to-manufacturer strategy using our pilot plant furnaces in the second half of 2021, with the production of titanium and rare earth permanent magnet alloy powders.
“This will enable ASM to commence providing critical metals directly into the Korean manufacturing sector,” said Woodall.
The company will also continue discussions with oxide suppliers and Korean metal and alloy consumers, ensuring supply and offtake contracts are delivered before a development decision for the metals plant.