|15 June 2018||
How a global hunt for vanadium may increase titanium supply
By Cameron Perks
What do mineral exploration companies Chalice Gold Mines, King River Copper, Technology Metals Australia, Vanadium Corp, Australian Vanadium, Six Sigma Metals, Tando Resources, TNG Ltd as well as lithium-miner Neometals all have in common? All of these companies are searching for vanadium, a now sought-after mineral used in vanadium redox batteries (VRBs).
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), vanadium is traditionally used in steel alloy production and is predominantly mined in China, but also in South Africa, Russia and Brazil. As a consequence of the US' import dependence, the USGS named vanadium on its final list of critical minerals, announced on May 18.
The VRB sector is expanding thanks to its wide range of energy applications. Their large storage capacity and high cycle performance and durability make these batteries particularly suitable for grid and large scale industrial and residential uses.
Another mineral that all of these companies have in common is titanium. This is because geologically speaking, vanadium and titanium commonly occur together in anorthositic, mafic to ultramafic rocks and are often referred to as vanadiferous titanomagnetite (VTM) deposits.
Recent market announcements, explored below, revealed that investors, explorers and miners are actively seeking to become the next vanadium producers, and therefore, also the next titanium producers.
These companies are flying under the radar in terms of titanium, due to their battery-industry focus. Of these companies, the most advanced projects are held by Australia Securities Exchange (ASX)-listed companies Neometals Ltd and TNG Ltd.
On May 8, Neometals, an established lithium producer, reported that its Western Australia-located titanium-vanadium Barrambie direct shipping ore (DSO) project was the subject of bulk-sampling and test work.
The company's titanium feedstock has been confirmed to be suitable for high-purity (>99%) titanium dioxide production, and can be precipitated selectively from a leach solution at recoveries greater than 90%. Barrambie's Eastern Band made a total mineral resource for Barrambie is estimated to be 280.1 million tonnes at 9.18% titanium dioxide and 0.44% vanadium pentoxide.
Elsewhere, TNG's Australian Northern Territory Mount Peake Vanadium-Titanium Iron Project was awarded federal environmental approval on May 15 of this year. The project, which contains 160 million tonnes of 5.31% titanium dioxide and 0.28% vanadium pentoxide as part of its resource (as of 2013), will now need a mine management plan in order to proceed to a stage where offtake, funding and construction may proceed.
A long list of early to mid-stage explorers also exist, and while they are a long way from production, present another potential source of titanium in the long term.
ASX-listed explorer Tando Resources commenced exploration on May 21 on its South African high-grade vanadium project, after acquiring it from Vanadium Resources Ltd on March 22.
The company's preliminary estimates on a concentrate indicate grades of 2% vanadium pentoxide and 13% titanium dioxide.
Likewise, ASX-listed explorer Chalice Gold Mines announced on May 23 that it had applied for a number of vanadium focused exploration licenses in Queensland and Western Australia. The company notes that the areas are "highly prospective" for nickel, copper platinum group elements and titanium.
Another Australia-based ASX-listed explorer, Six Sigma Metals, has recently agreed to acquire "highly prospective" vanadium-titanium and lithium assets located in Zimbabwe from Mirrorplex Ltd. The announcement, made on May 17, said that the acquisition was part of a strategy to "capitalize on the rising interest in the sector due to recent global [battery] technology advances". This company has likened its geology to that of ASX-listed Australian Vanadium's Western Australian Gabanintha deposit, as well as ASX-listed King River Copper's Western Australian Speerwah deposit.
Of these, King River Copper has conducted advanced metallurgical test work which has resulted in high purity titanium dioxide and vanadium pentoxide products. Australian Vanadium has also carried out test work on their project, resulting in the production of a combined concentrate yielding around 15% titanium dioxide.
In late February, ASX-listed Technology Metals Australia reported that it had recovered up to 97.8% vanadium in magnetic concentrates during metallurgical test work. While initial results focused on vanadium, early success may pave the way to future titanium production at this deposit, which contains 9.7% titanium dioxide.
Despite these companies focused on vanadium production, the potential volume of titanium dioxide that could be supplied into pigment markets is substantial.
Industrial Minerals reported prices for titanium dioxide pigment, high quality, bulk volume, cfr Asia, on May 24 at $2,800-3,100 per tonne, unchanged from the previous week. The price had been assessed at $2,720-3,100 per tonne a year earlier.
Titanium dioxide prices have been rising since early 2017 due to increased demand driven by the global economic recovery and the reduction in output due to environmental inspections in China, Industrial Minerals reported earlier in May.
While this may be the case, it remains to be seen as to whether vanadium-driven titanium dioxide production can provide any pricing relief.
|14 June 2018|
|8 June 2018|
|30 May 2018||
European vanadium prices up on tight supply
Metal Bulletin reports that European vanadium prices increased this week due to lower inventory. Prices for Ferro-vanadium was up 1.2% to $64-66 per kg, according to Metal Bulletin.
Metal Bulletin sources “suspect an increase in consumer interest will allow prices to rebound further in the near term.”
Meanwhile, export prices China were flat with low market activity. Producers seem unsure on the near term future market direction.
“Tightness in China’s domestic market continues, and I held my offers at $14.50-14.90 per Ib,” one Hubei-based producer/exporter said.
|23 March 2018|
|20 March 2018||
Chinese vanadium market follows Europe and USA with higher prices
Metal Bulletin reports that Chinese vanadium producers increased their prices significantly due to low stocks levels.
V2O5 prices are now at US$14.80-16 per lb, up by 4.2% and Ferro-Vanadium prices stood at $69-71 per kg, up by 11.1% from a week earlier on fob China basis.
In Europe and the USA, prices have stabilized after last week’s rally while further increase are expected in the near future.
“We will not accept low prices for our sales [of V2O5] as we cannot secure any low-priced material in the domestic market,” one Chinese V2O5 exporter told Metal Bulletin.
“Prices are still holding strong in both China and here in Europe. It is still a question of availability,” a European supplier source told Metal Bulletin.
|14 March 2018||
Vanadium prices continue their strong rally
Metal Bulletin reports that vanadium prices continue to surge in Europe and USA on the back of rising supply concerns.
The Chinese market is also moving up but with lower trading activity.
V2O5 prices are now at US$14-14.60/lb, almost 8% higher than last month.
"Major domestic V2O5 producers reported no cargoes to sell in spot market, and ferro-vanadium producers raised prices and are selling in small amounts. We failed to source spot material, so have had to stop quoting," a ferro-vanadium exporter said.
"Demand is very good, and there is not much material available. Prices just continue to jump up," a supplier source told Metal Bulletin.
|21 February 2018||
WA Advanced Materials
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|15 February 2018||
USA and Europe vanadium markets strong amid lower stocks
Metal Bulletin reports that vanadium markets in Europe and USA are strengthening further due to stronger demand and continued supply concerns. V2O5 prices are now firm above US$13/lb, 6% higher than last month.
"People are very short on material right now, especially traders" a US-based supplier source said.
In China, vanadium market is slower with fewer exports quotations ahead of the Chinese New Year’s holidays.
However, a sources reckons that "the current tight supply in V2O5 is expected to persist in the next months, and the sharp demand growth (in China) may happen in the second half of the year if no additional production fills the gap".
|31 January 2018|
|19 January 2018||
Vanadium market price continue to soar
Metal Bulletin reports that Vanadium Pentoxide prices have rocketed more than 30% in China since December to US$12-13.30/lb. This is mainly due to the expectation that market might be facing a deficit in 2018 due to increased demand with the new rebar standard and feedstock constraint with the ban on slag imports. Traditionally a vanadium-exporting country, China also suffered major production disruptions in July and August 2017.
In the rest of the world, prices have followed the Chinese trend with Ferro Vanadium up 6.73% over the past week in Europe and amid low inventories being reported in the US. “It is incredible what is happening in this market right now,” a trader told Metal Bulletin.
On the energy storage side, China reportedly started construction of world’s largest battery with 800MWh capacity (equivalent of 16,000 Tesla model 3 batteries) and it is a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery!
|5 January 2018|