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23 July 2008


SRA reports scoping study on proposed germanium and gallium recovery plant

Strategic Resource Acquisition Corp of Toronto, ON, Canada has announced the results of a preliminary assessment (scoping study) conducted by Aker Metals on the economic viability of a proposed plant to recover both germanium (Ge) and gallium (Ga) in the zinc leachate from smelting concentrate at its mid-Tennessee zinc (MTZ) mining complex.

The study is based on a projected plant feed of 13,000 dmt (dry metric tons) per annum of leachate with a process recovery of 84% Ge and 82% Ga. At selling prices of US$1000/kg Ge and US$300/kg Ga (a considerable discount from current spot prices), potential annual sales are estimated to be US$40m, with operating profit of US$25m (representing an 18 month payback on capital).

The estimated capital cost of US$34m is inclusive of costs up to and including plant commissioning and start-up, and assumes that the plant is an add-on to the existing facilities at MTZ. For the purposes of the study, economics have been based on 0.54 wt% Ga and 0.2 wt% Ge, as tested in the laboratory. However, average historic leachate assays for both metals have been in excess of study values.

“With annual operating costs under US$15m and an estimated capital cost of US$34m, the recovery and sale of germanium and gallium from MTZ zinc leachate is very attractive financially,” the scoping study concludes. “Additional testing at the pilot-scale level is required to further examine the viability of the conceptual process and demonstrate recoveries and product purity levels.”

“The economics demonstrated in the proposed Ge/Ga recovery plant effectively reduces our projected production costs by at least $0.15 per lb of zinc and is attractive to potential joint venture partners we are currently in discussions with,” says SRA’s president & CEO Victor Wyprysky.

SRA is now proceeding with the permitting, laboratory testing of the recovery process and planning of the pilot plant, which is expected to be completed by first-quarter 2009.

In the interim, the firm says that it should be able to sell its Ge/Ga-rich smelter leachate for the next two years for $10-15m per annum. In late May, SRA agreed to sell a significant portion of the leachate to Recapture Metals Ltd of Peterborough, ON, Canada, a supplier of recovered high-purity gallium. Also, in early June, it entered into a tri-partite, two-year memorandum of understanding with New York-based Amlon Resources Group LLC (a diversified metals and industrial byproducts management group) and a Chinese end-user group for the sale of 5000 tons per year of Ge/Ga-rich leachate in the first year and an increasing amount in the second year (with advance payment starting this fall). The agreement is subject to the approval of a trial shipment of leachate, and should be finalized by September.

See related items:

Fab upgrades shift GaAs substrate demand from 4-inch to 6-inch

SRA agrees germanium and gallium leachate supply deals

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