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ANSTO has provided the mining and minerals processing industries with consultancy, process development and research services for more than 40 years. 

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Petalite, petalite or castorite is an important mineral for obtaining lithium, battery industry, lithium source

World-leading expertise

ANSTO has world-leading expertise in the processing of critical and strategic metals such as rare earths, scandium, lithium, zirconium, niobium, and hafnium.

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Industrial research collaborations

ANSTO supports a number of Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) programs in the area of critical and strategic minerals. Current work includes: 

  • The LieNA® technology piloting program in partnership with Lithium Australia. This work will demonstrate the recovery of lithium directly from fine and low grade spodumene mineral concentrates as lithium phosphate, and then conversion of this into cathode powders for lithium ferro-phosphate (LFP) batteries
  • Improved production of high purity vanadium pentoxide in partnership with Australian Vanadium Limited. This work is focussed on developing innovative approaches to the production of high purity vanadium pentoxide for use in energy storage as Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB) and other high-end applications

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  • aerial view of songwe hill camp from Mkango Resources

    Definitive Feasibility

    Songwe Hill Project

    In a major step forward, Definitive Feasibility Study results for the Songwe Hill Rare Earths Project in Malawi, East Africa have been released this July by Mkango Resources. ANSTO has been involved in the project for a number of years supporting the DFS through optimisation and piloting programs conducted at our Lucas Heights facility. 

    The final hydrometallurgical pilot at ANSTO in late 2021 produced a mixed rare earth concentrate containing 55 wt% TREO equivalent, enriched in neodymium and praseodymium (Nd/Pr) oxides, which together made up 31% of the rare earth oxide content. The Songwe Hill deposit comprises mostly carbonaceous gangue minerals with the principal rare earth bearing mineral being synchysite (CaCO3·CeFCO3).

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  • mkango_resources_songwe_hill

    Test work

    Songwe Hill pilot plant

    Mkango Resources (Mkango) have commenced preparation for hydrometallurgical pilot testing at ANSTO in support of the Songwe Hill Rare Earth Project in Malawi.

    Mkango is currently piloting the up-front flotation process to produce sufficient mineral concentrate. This will be supplied to ANSTO for piloting of optimised hydrometallurgical processes, representing an improvement to that used in the Pre-Feasibility Study.

    Mkango and ANSTO have been working together since 2017, our team is looking forward to supporting the project during this critical stage of the Feasibility Study.

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  • NQ core testwork Angela Uranium mine

    Cost savings

    Angela Uranium deposit

    ANSTO partnered with Marenica Energy Limited to evaluate strategies to reduce acid consumption during leaching for the Angela Uranium Deposit. 

    Successful demonstration of the rejection of calcite using Marenica's U-prgrade™ technology at ANSTO resulted in: 

    • Reduction of acid consumption from 104 to 24 kg/t, a difference of 80 kg/t
    • Uranium extraction from the ore post calcite removal increased in comparison to the untreated ore from 95.8% compared to 93.0%
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    ANSTO is looking forward to working with Marenica on further development and optimisation of the calcite removal process.

  • Honeymoon Uranium Mine Project

    IX optimisation

    Honeymoon project

    Boss Resources Ltd. has announced improved process economics for its Honeymoon Uranium Project in South Australia.

    Recent optimisation test work on the ion exchange (IX) circuit of the process has identified the ability to remove heating during elution which positively impacts the project economics.

    The IX process proposed for Honeymoon also uses a patented elution process developed at ANSTO.

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    ANSTO continues to work with Boss on it's revised Feasibility Study for the Honeymoon restart.