ASX-listed Australian Bauxite’s 89 per cent-owned chemical refining subsidiary, Alcore has clinched the services of Dr Mark Cooksey as its Chief Executive Officer after he filled the position in the second half of last year on a leave arrangement with national science agency, the CSIRO.
Sydney-based Australian Bauxite says Dr Cooksey’s appointment is a shot in the arm for Alcore’s efforts to commercialise a new process for aluminium fluoride production.
In the last 12 months Mark has been instrumental in accelerating Alcore’s technical and commercial development. Alcore is now beginning to scale-up the technology to larger-scale production and needs the highly skilled and experienced leadership that Mark can provide.
Alcore aims to become the first domestic supplier of aluminium fluoride at its project in Tasmania. Its grand plan involves building a processing plant designed to convert aluminium smelter waste and low-grade bauxite into aluminium fluoride using new Australian technology.
The company hopes to kick off the proposed staged development in 2022 with the construction of an aluminium fluoride production module at the Bell Bay industrial precinct in northern Tasmania.
Alcore is weighing up a potential production capacity of 10,000 tonnes of aluminium fluoride a year for the first module and says it is targeting the gradual addition of up to five production modules of the same size.
CAPEX for the first aluminium fluoride production module has been estimated at $20 million, with initial commissioning of the module earmarked for some time next year.
Already, under the Dr Cooksey’s stewardship, Alcore has been able to recover fluorine from aluminium smelter waste provided by multiple smelters and suppliers and use it in test runs to successfully demonstrate the production of a saleable aluminium fluoride.
The company has recorded a consistently high – averaging 93 per cent – of aluminium fluoride product from various samples with composition meeting commercial chemical and physical specifications. Chemical analysis was performed by CSIRO.
Aluminium fluoride is an essential ingredient in aluminium smelters and Australasian smelters’ supplies of the product are currently fully imported.
Dr Cooksey said late last year: “For the process selected for our first 10,000 tonnes a year production module, we have demonstrated all of the key requirements at the laboratory scale. We are accelerating the engineering validation for the first production module.”
The engineering validation activities may incorporate a pilot plant to help confirm and optimise the performance of its process at a larger scale and produce larger test samples of aluminium fluoride for evaluation by aluminium smelters.
Process verification experiments will also continue in the laboratory with a view to producing aluminium fluoride from bauxite and aluminium smelter waste of equivalent quality to that produced from aluminium hydroxide.
According to Alcore its process, which predominantly uses standard processing equipment, is the first in the world that leads to the production of aluminium fluoride from the recycling of aluminium smelter waste and from Australian Bauxite’s gibbsite-rich clean bauxite.
It has been producing aluminium fluoride at its Central Coast, NSW research centre laboratory since mid-2019.
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