The Richmond – Julia Creek Vanadium Project is the largest non-titanomagnetite vanadium deposit of its kind (soft marine sediments) globally and can produce a significant supply of vanadium for the steel and emerging energy storage markets for many years to come.
The project involves the development of an open cut, free dig vanadium mining operation producing 98.6% vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) flake over a 25-year initial life of mine (LOM) from the ore reserve. Subject to BFS outcomes, production is expected to be able to be scaled up and extended to meet demand.
The Richmond – Julia Creek Vanadium Project is located in the mining friendly jurisdiction of north Queensland, known for large copper mines with facilities and infrastructure to support operations. Situated between the towns of Julia Creek and Richmond, the project is approximately 500km west of Townsville and 400km east of Mt Isa on the main east-west Flinders Highway and close to existing infrastructure including a gas pipeline, proposed Copper String 2.0 HV network line and Great Northern rail line linked to Townsville Port.
The project consists of five tenements (EPMs 25163, 25164, 25258, 26425, 26426) totalling 1,403km2 and comprises three main prospects – Lilyvale, Manfred & Rothbury. Project Status was approved by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in August 2017 allowing project-based work programs, relinquishments and expenditure.
Vanadium is listed by the Australian Government as a critical mineral with the project included in the Government’s Critical Mineral Prospectus in 2020 and 2021. The Queensland Government has allocated $75 million for common user infrastructure to support the development, extraction and production of critical minerals, allowing multiple small mining operations to access the facility with the ambition of kickstarting downstream battery storage industries in the state. RVT is included in a panel helping to determine the Queensland Government’s common user facility Future User Engagement Protocol.
The Queensland government also announced Australia’s first commercial-scale vanadium flow battery electrolyte manufacturing facility to be constructed in Townsville through its Industry Partnership Program and a $5 biilion investment in the CopperString 2032 project, a 1,100 km high-voltage electricity transmission line from Townsville to Mount Isa that will connect Queensland’s North West Minerals Province (NWMP) to the national electricity grid.
RVT believes the project can have significant economic development benefits to regional Queensland and the national economy, supported by the declaration in May 2022 by the Queensland Government of Co-ordinated Project Status – the first critical minerals project to receive this status.
Mineral Resource & Ore Reserve
Widespread exploration has been conducted in the Richmond-Julia Creek area over the last 30 years, with a significant proportion focused on the search for oil and process testwork of the unoxidised kerogen-rich oil shale.
In October 1998, a review of the data has recognized a project targeting oxide vanadium mineralisation (without regard to oil in the fresh rock) could be viable. An active 18 month work program followed which involved drilling, geochemical sampling and assaying, resource estimation, metallurgical sampling, extensive metallurgical testwork, process flowsheet design and development.
A small regional drilling program was undertaken in 2018. In late 2019, RVT completed an infill drilling program on the Lilyvale deposit comprising 333 aircore holes for 7,817m. The aim of the drilling was to infill previous drilling to enable an Updated Mineral Resource estimate at an improved JORC Category from Inferred to Indicated.
With a Mineral Resource (compliant with JORC, 2012) of 1.8Bt @ 0.36% for 6.7Mt V2O5, the Richmond Vanadium Project hosts the largest non-titanomagnetite vanadium deposit of its kind (soft marine sediments) making it a world class vanadium resource.
Over 76% of the Lilyvale Mineral Resource has been upgraded to the Indicated Category and the Lilyvale Deposit has a maiden open pit Ore Reserve of 459.2Mt @ 0.49% V2O5 using a 0.30% V2O5 lower grade cut-off for 2.25 Mt of contained V2O5 product.
The project is a large, low grade, high calcite content resource. The key to unlocking the great potential has always been about finding the right metallurgical solution to economically extract the vanadium from the ore.
Significant metallurgical testwork has been undertaken over the past four years with all testwork utilising established conventional techniques to minimise technical risk. A two-step process has been verified to firstly upgrade mined ore from a grade of 0.49% to a shipping grade of 1.82% V2O5 concentrate. The second stage involves extraction via recovery process to produce 98% V2O5 flake for use in the steel and energy storage markets.
A provisional patent application has been lodged with IP Australia covering the method for the extraction of vanadium.
The project is expected to have a production rate of 4.2 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) Run of Mine (ROM) ore mined and processed on site to produce approximately 790,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) concentrate. The PFS metrics were calculated over a 25-year initial life of mine however at the stated rate of production the reserve can support a nominal mine life of over 100 years at Lilyvale.
A positive Pre-Feasibility Study was completed for the project, based on an initial 25-year life, demonstrating a financially viable project.
The PFS completed in May 2020 and updated in August 2021 assumed that beneficiation to a concentrate would take place at the project site near Richmond and the downstream recovery would be undertaken offshore. The BFS will focus on downstream recovery to be conducted in Queensland.
RVT is looking to be the first step in a local mining to metals to battery manufacturing corridor and aims to produce 12,701 tpa of V2O5 battery grade flake.
In November 2021 the Queensland Government announced it would build and own a new vanadium common user facility (VCUF) in Townsville for downstream refining of vanadium concentrate to vanadium pentoxide suitable for battery use. This is part of the state’s plan to make Queensland a leading producer and exporter of new-economy minerals. The VCUF can be used by multiple, smaller mining companies that do not have the available capital to set up their own refining facilities. RVT is on the panel to discuss design development and access arrangements.
Bankable Feasibility Study
As part of its accelerated project development activities, RVT appointed experienced study manager Peter Hedley as the Project Director for the Company’s Bankable Feasibility Study (“BFS”) in March 2023. International multi-disciplinary engineering, project delivery and operations management group DRA Global was appointed as engineering services consultant in June 2023. DRA has delivered a number of significant projects in Australia and overseas across a diverse range of commodities including vanadium and this experience and their close collaboration is invaluable as the BFS moves towards completion by Q4 2024.
Environmental Impact Study
Specialist environmental consultant Epic Environmental has worked with RVT on the project for more than 5 years and has been appointed to complete the Environmental Impact Study and delivery of an Environmental Authority and Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan to support a future Mining Lease grant.
Epic will undertake the scope of works in parallel to the BFS and in collaboration with RVT and DRA.