Thursday, 11 October 2012

Argex Titanium launches feasibility study for titanium dioxide production plant

Argex Titanium (CVE:RGX) says that it has hired engineering services firm Genivar to conduct a feasibility study for a titanium dioxide (TiO2) first-module production facility, putting it one step closer to becoming a producer of the substance. 
The study will look to establish the economic viability of building the plant, as well as to provide a development plan and capital estimate. 
Argex said Thursday that both the company and Genivar have agreed to mutual terms of exclusivity for engineering services related to the development and construction of the processing plant using the miner's patented process. 
The near-term producer of titanium dioxide said it has a proprietary mineral extraction process that allows it to produce high purity, or 99.8 per cent pure,  pigment-grade TiO2 directly from run-of-mine material at its deposits.
The process is running continuously at its pilot-plant in Mississauga, and Argex said the closed-loop process is environmentally friendly and produces minimal inert tailings. 
Earlier this month, the company said it successfully completed the production scale up of high purity titanium dioxide at its pilot plant, placing it in on solid footing for the preparation of its industrial plant. 
The company can now produce more than three tonnes of TiO2 per year from its Mississauga pilot plant. Titanium dioxide is an inorganic substance characterized by brightness and very high refractive index, making it an ideal pigment in paints, plastics and paper.
Argex's CTL process is unique in that it produces high-purity TiO2 "in a single location through a single process", directly from the ore  material. 
The company said today that it has also appointed Aecom, a global provider of professional and industrial services, to conduct an environmental study for the company for the required permits. 
Both the feasibility and environmental studies follow positive results from a TiO2 grade sensitivity study earlier this year, which showed improved project economics using "commerically available sulfate grade ilmenite feedstock". 
The news also comes after "significant improvements" were unveiled this past summer in the CTL hydrometallurigical process. 
The closed-loop design uses relatively low concentrations of hydrochloric acid that is regenerated after use in the process. 
"The hiring of Genivar to complete the feasibility study for the future Argex TiO2 industrial facility is an important step towards launching commercial  production of our TiO2 product," said Argex president and CEO, Roy Bonnell. 
"The preliminary work already completed by Argex's COO, Enrico  Di Cesare will expedite the completion of the study. Upon completion of the  study, we will be in a position to evaluate major partnership  opportunities, and engage in detailed construction engineering work and  start hiring suppliers."
Bonnell further said that the company plans to start the operation of the first module using the commercially available feedstock as per its sensitivity analysis. 
"Our wholly-owned properties remain a  low-risk option for future expansion, an alternative to commercial  feedstock price increase or non-availability due to feedstock market  conditions."
The junior Canadian resource company is developing the advanced stage La Blache titaniferous magnetite project, and also owns the Lac Brûlé high grade ilmenite and the Mouchalagane iron ore projects, which are all located on Quebec’s North Shore.
Shares in Argex were steady at $1.10 on Thursday afternoon, after earlier rising more than 4.5 per cent to $1.15 each. 

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