Austpac Resources NL (ASX:APG) is considering the construction of a pilot plant to further test the development of technologies that turn steel mill waste into valuable commodities.
The company says a review it has undertaken of the Zinc & Iron Recovery Process (ZIRP) following two melt tests conducted by the CSIRO has proven that mill waste products – zinc contaminated furnace dust and spent pickle liquor – can be transformed into three separate saleable products; pig iron, HCl and zinc oxide.
The first melt test, which was reported earlier this year, demonstrated that a clean iron product with very few impurities could be produced. This product is ideal for making high purity pig iron for use in foundries.
The second melt test, which was carried out recently, was to evaluate the quality of the zinc oxide product. Austpac says that the zinc oxide content in the product was 87%, which is well above the 60% that is required for a saleable product for zinc metal production.
However, the test work carried out by the company late last year at its Newcastle plant demonstrated that there are still some areas in the process which need further refinement before committing to a commercial plant.
In consultation with industry participants and the steelmakers who have carried out analysis of the process, it has been recommended that a pilot plant needs to be constructed that can run continuously for a period of six to 12 months before a commercial plant should be constructed.
The company has retained John Winter, who has been instrumental to the design and test work carried out to date, to carry out a detailed review to provide the parameters of a pilot plant which can address the further refinements and process flowsheet improvements that are required for the commercialisation of the Zinc & Iron Recovery Process.
One of the considerations in the review will be the viability of the Newcastle plant given that the location of the pilot plant would be better suited closer to a feed source and that the current plant configuration may not be suitable going forward.
In the last year or so the Company has mainly relied on funding for its technologies from its major shareholder Yangang (Hong Kong) Co Limited.
However, it believes that due to the impact of COVID-19 and internal Chinese issues, the company cannot necessarily rely on future funding from that region. As such, the company said it is considering other funding options.