«Eastern Australian Volcanic Bauxite Project Progress Report June 2010 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Plateau Bauxite Limited has entered into a Joint Venture with ...»
Eastern Australian Volcanic Bauxite
Project Progress Report
Plateau Bauxite Limited has entered into a Joint Venture with Volcan Australia Corporation
Pty Ltd to develop over 10,000 square kilometres of exploration tenements of bauxite
prospective country along the Eastern Australian coast. This extensive tenement holding
encompasses gibbsite-rich basaltic volcanic deposits occurring from far north Queensland to
southern New South Wales. These volcanic terrains represent an exciting alumina alteration system that potentially may contain hundreds of millions of tonnes of high quality gibbsiterich bauxite, to support future local refineries along the Eastern Australian continental margin.
The aim of the Plateau Bauxite joint venture is to be a major producer of bauxite and alumina in Australia for the international markets.
The aggressive exploration program, encouraged by the Mines Department’s fast tracking of the granting of the exploration leases, included an extensive research of historic records, geological mapping of extensive areas of bauxite mineralisation, bauxite lithotype characterisation, conceptual deposit modelling, remote sensing, sampling, drilling and assaying.
The following is a summary of the key project outcomes achieved to date:
1. The NSW Department of Industry and Investment has granted all exploration licenses in NSW the subject of the Joint Venture, including the Inverell East Bauxite Project (EL’s 7301 to 7302), and the Monaro Bauxite Project (EL’s 7291 to 7295).
2. The Joint Venture also encompasses 23 separate exploration permits for bauxite in the State of Queensland, Australia nearly all already granted by the Queensland Government Department of Mines and Energy. These tenements comprise the Pittsworth Project (EPM’s 18135, 18137, 18145, 18146, 18155 & 18156), the Kingaroy Project (EPM’s 18131, 18132, 18133, 18134, 18136, 18141, 18142, 18143, 18144, 18149, 18152, & 18153), the Ravenshoe Project (EPM’s 18140 & 18464), the Atherton Project (EPM’s 18138 & 18139), and the recent granting of the exciting new South Johnstone Project (EPM 18463).
3. The Queensland bauxite tenements are believed to contain some of the largest bauxite deposits in the current portfolio. In particular, some historical bauxite deposits in the Kingaroy and South Johnstone areas are considered to host large tonnages of bauxite (e.g. at South Johnstone, in 1961 Carpentaria Exploration identified upwards of 200 million tonnes of further bauxite potential that is close to major transport links and port facilities. These reports were made prior to the JORC code for reporting of resources coming in to existence. As such, the JV intends to redrill these areas to achieve a current JORC compliant resource). Extensive areas of bauxitic rocks have also been identified within the Kingaroy tenements that are close to rail links that lead to the port of Brisbane.
4. A large number of landholders have been approached across all the tenements in the Inverell area. Many of the landholders have signed access agreements for their properties.
5. Immediately north-east of Inverell, field mapping has confirmed bauxite deposits in at least 3 large volcanic domes within Exploration Licenses 7301 & 7302, over an aggregate area of more than 70km2. Access agreements have now been secured with a number of landholders at Nullamanna, which has allowed Calweld and air core drilling to be carried out in the area, confirming the widespread distribution of surface deposits of bauxite. Some sections drilled recorded bauxite thicknesses 10m.
6. Extensive outcrop sampling of gibbsite-rich (aluminium hydroxide) rocks across one of the largest target domes (the Nullamanna Dome) during 2009, has confirmed the existence of significant mineralisation of commercial grade bauxite, with available alumina and reactive silica percentages ranging up to 58% Al2O3, and as low as 0.9% SiO2. Preliminary grade modelling indicates averages of Available Alumina = 32% & Reactive Silica = 4.9% across the entire area sampled to-date.
7. The samples analysed to-date contain high concentrations of gibbsite, and are therefore suitable for low-temperature refining using the Bayer Process. The samples were analysed by ALS Laboratories in Brisbane using a low temperature sodium hydroxide leach (Appendix 1). This provides an important advantage to the economics of bauxite processing, as low-temperature refining uses less energy than the high temperature refining typically required for many of the world’s bauxite deposits.
8. Analysed samples from the Calweld and air core drilling programs at Nullamanna are currently being assessed and modelled. Geochemical analysis from over 100 representative samples from the air core drilling further confirmed that the bauxites sampled are gibbsite-rich, with minor or no boehmite, thereby confirming their suitability for low temperature processing. Furthermore, simple crushing and screening may also be effective in removing clay and increasing the Available Alumina grade and quality of the ore.
9. Given the initial success at Nullamanna, the Company plans to expand its drilling operations across the central regions of the “Nullamanna Dome” to further evaluate a core area considered to have even greater thicknesses of bauxite than those discovered thus far. The Company’s target is to prove sufficient economic bauxite to enable the profitable operation of a refinery in the region.
10. A large-scale satellite interpretation program has been completed across the entire Inverell tenement base, with extensive bauxite signatures identified. Follow-up field checking and ground-truthing has shown that the imagery is very effective at identifying bauxite outcrops and sub-crops. It is the intention to replicate this program throughout the entire basaltic bauxite tenement base in Eastern Australia, for fast tracking future bauxite location and drilling operations.
11. In the Monaro district, numerous intra-basaltic bauxitic horizons have been identified within exploration licences 7291 to 7295. It is now planned to utilise similar geophysical imagery over the Monaro licences to better define surface outcrops and sub-crops for future investigation.
12. Work to-date has also involved the identification and solving of a number of land access issues, together with determining and implementing appropriate NSW regulatory requirements in respect of Operational Health & Safety and environmental impacts pertinent to carrying out our approved exploration activities within the licence area.
13. It was reported to the ASX in 2009 that bauxite was successfully shipped by another company from their project in southern Western Australia, to Shandong in China. The aim of Volcan is to ship bauxite to Asia from northern Queensland, a location over 1000 km closer to Shandong province in China than from where that company had sent their bauxite. Our exploration program will be focused on continuing to locate resources with equivalent or better grades of available alumina and reactive silica, compared to the ore that was successfully sent and sold to China, and with gibbsite dominated mineralogy. Gibbsite ore with little or no boehmite present is in short supply and is a highly sought after bauxite type.
14. Worldwide mining of surface bauxite deposits including rehabilitation are reported to cost approximately US$13 per tonne, and high grade bauxites at port have in the past been reported to sell as high as $80 per tonne. Depending on the grade of bauxite discovered, and final mining and transportation costs, the profits on an economic bauxite mine could be very significant. It is the intention of the company to mine millions of tons of bauxite annually once the resources have been identified as proven to JORC and bankable standard, and mining approvals obtained.
Figure 1 East Australian Bauxite Project Areas
NEW SOUTH WALES TENEMENT HOLDINGS AND RESOURCE POTENTIALVolcan Australia Corporation Pty Ltd has been granted 7 separate exploration licences by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. These exploration licences for bauxite cover highly gibbsite-prospective basaltic volcaniclastic deposits occurring from Cooma in the south to Inverell in far northern New South Wales. These deposits are associated with a belt of Tertiary basaltic volcanic terrains that straddle the Great Dividing Range of eastern Australia (Figure 1).
Tenement The 7 Exploration Permits held by Volcan Australia Corporation Pty Ltd comprise the following tenements; EL7291 to EL7295 (Figure 2) and EL7301 to EL7302 (Figure 3) Prospectivity The Exploration Licences applied for in NSW, cover a number of discrete volcanic provinces that are known to contain historic deposits of gibbsite-rich bauxites that are located within widespread blankets of highly altered and weathered bauxitic basaltic volcaniclastic rocks.
Many of these extensive blankets of bauxite have little or no overburden.
The areas chosen were selected following a review of historic records of bauxite occurrences in NSW (Booker & Hanlon, 1944; Owen, 1954), research work to the PhD level, and detailed analysis of satellite imagery. The satellite imagery over the New England region has confirmed the existence of the historic deposits identified by Booker and Hanlon (1944) and showed that bauxitised basaltic volcanic rocks are far more extensive than previously recognised in the Inverell area. The entire Monaro Volcanic Province has also been secured under exploration licence (Figure 2), based on the work of Taylor & Roach (2003) and also the discovery of significant thicknesses of weathered gibbsitic basaltic volcanic rocks within the volcanic pile in diamond drill hole DDH7 (Brown et al, 1992; Pratt et al, 1993).
Volcan’s New South Wales bauxite project regions cover an area of approximately 4,500 square kilometres. A summary of prospective terrain held under tenement for each project and the historic data, where available, is listed in Table 1.
Closeness to Established Infrastructure Many of the areas chosen by the Company for bauxite exploration and deposit development in New South Wales, are generally considered to be favourably located with respect to water and power supplies, as well as road and rail transport corridors (Figure 1).
Furthermore, the areas chosen for investigation by the Company are also close to major regional centres such as Inverell and Cooma, which are considered capable of supplying goods, services and future workforce requirements, should deposit development occur.
Previous Work The following descriptions relate to historic work carried out on the bauxites within each of the volcanic regions being explored by the Company:Historic Bauxite Deposits within the Inverell East tenements (EL7301-EL7302) Historic bauxite localities within Volcan Australia Corporation’s Inverell East tenements include the Nullamanna East, Burgundy and Wandera deposits (Figure 3). These deposits lie near the village of Nullamanna about 15 km north east of Inverell (Owen, 1954). The largest of these deposits, Nullamanna East, occupies an area approximately 1000m long by 30m wide and contains a historic resource (non-JORC) of 650,000 tons. During a 2009 field sampling program, Volcan geologists confirmed these results as part of a broader exploration program. Details of grade, thickness and tonnages for the historically-known deposits within the Inverell East tenements are presented in Table 2.
Although there are no historic bauxite deposits reported within the Monaro volcanic province, previous studies suggest that Volcan Australia’s tenements may be prospective.
Taylor & Roach (2003) report that the Monaro basaltic pile is 197m thick and is made up of about 22 individual basalt lava flows. Their observations are based on a borehole at Myalla Lake described by Brown et al (1992). Of these 22 reported flows, 7 are topped by weathering profiles up to 12.5m thick, including bauxite caps up to 3.5m thick.” Some of these weathering profiles have been mapped over distances of more than 10km.
Bauxite Outcrop Sampling Program across the Nullamanna Dome
Following an initial reconnaissance sampling program in late 2008, a second phase of surface bauxite grab sampling and geological mapping was carried out by Volcan geologists in January 2009, encompassing most of the bauxite-prospective Nullamanna Dome, an area of approximately 20km2. Combined with the November 2008 field programme, this phase of work brings the total number of analyses carried out on bauxites and iron ores from the Nullamanna area to 373. The locations of the samples are shown in Figure 4. The analyses were carried out by ALS Laboratories in Brisbane using a low temperature sodium hydroxide leach process suitable for gibbsite-rich bauxites. The analytical procedures used are detailed in an independent review of bauxite sample processing by Terrence Wilsteed (Appendix 1).
The latest work has further confirmed the existence of thick outcrop sequences of bauxitic basaltic agglomerates with commercial-grade available alumina and low reactive silica.
These rocks appear to be gibbsite-altered eroded vent and crater facies material that has infilled a major interfluve between structurally controlled north-west and north-south trending palaeodrainage corridors.
Furthermore, geological modelling within the Company’s principal exploration target, across the Nullamanna Dome, suggests the potential for a zoned gibbsite ore alteration system, in which discrete and rich areas potentially hosting millions of tonnes of high-grade ore (i.e.
avail Alumina 40% & reactive Silica 3.5%) may be possible within particular crater facies environments.
In order to understand typical bauxitic lithotypes, selected samples from around the Inverell area were studied in more detail, including petrographic descriptions, XRD analyses of mineral phases present, and mineral mapping using QEMSCAN.