Projects

About the Abercorn Project

The Abercorn Project is situated approximately 135km south of the deep-water port of Gladstone and 125km west of the deep-water port of Bundaberg in central Queensland. These major ports are connected to the Abercorn Project by sealed roads and the Burnett Highway bisects the tenements.

The kaolin mineralisation previously drilled in 24 holes at the Abercorn Project in 2007. This drilling was extended in Dec 2019, with an additional 62 holes, comprising 2,358m. The total number of holes drilled for the project is now 86 for a total of 3,172m and has the potential for the extraction of marketable volumes of higher-grade Al2O3 feedstock.

Significant High Grade Results Continue at Abercorn Project

Current project highlights include:

  • 86 RC holes drilled - kaolinite intersected in every hole
  • Large scale mineralised system from surface
  • Resource remains open in all directions
  • High Grade Al2O3 assay results include 33.71% Al2O3
  • Low cost operation - straight forward open cut mining
  • Little to no overburden
  • Low impurities
  • Mains power on site / major power transmission line within 5km of site
  • Large water supply nearby and within EPM

About our collaboration with The University of Queensland

Metalsearch (“MSE”) values its close working relationship with the University of Queensland, which through UniQuest is MSE’s largest shareholder with 7.85% of issued capital.  This collaboration places the company at the forefront of environmental mineral technology development [1].

Synthetic Zeolites, mineral processing technology – provisional patent lodged July 2019.

Metalsearch have secured an exclusive worldwide licence from UniQuest, the technology transfer company of The University of Queensland (UQ) for the manufacturing (synthesizing) of synthetic zeolites. The technology has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing zeolites, compared to conventional production processes.

https://uniquest.com.au/partnership-for-uq-mineral-processing-technology/

Synthetic zeolites are used in a broad range of applications including – water treatment (purification and separation), detergent builders and cracking processes in the pharmaceutical and petroleum industries, the 2019 global synthetic zeolite market was estimated at USD $5.64 billion [2]

Under lab conditions, UQ demonstrated:

  • up to 70% reduction in energy in the thermal activation stage;
  • up to 80% reduction in production time in subsequent zeolite precipitation steps;
  • significant reduction in toxic waste.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the UQ technology has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing zeolites, compared to current production processes.

“The UQ technology used to produce the synthetic zeolite has shown potential to reduce energy consumption and production time, compared to traditional methods in lab experiments.

“UniQuest is very pleased to have partnered with MSE for this promising technology. With the MSE licence, and an associated research agreement, we are excited to support MSE to explore broader use across multiple industry applications and further commercialise this technology to create change.” Dr Moss said.

High Purity Alumina (HPA), mineral processing technology provisional patent lodged November 2019.

The School of Chemical Engineering at UQ worked in collaboration with Abercorn Kaolin Pty Ltd (since late 2018), a wholly owned subsidiary of MSE to develop a novel approach to HPA production.

The objective of UQ research was to develop a kaolin to HPA processing method that enhances production efficiency and MSE is confident our proprietary technology has the potential to materially reduce capital and operating costs in the manufacture of HPA.

MSE owns 100% of the Intellectual Property associated with the provisional patent application and as announced to the ASX on 17th October 2019, kaolin from MSE’s Abercorn Project has successfully produced 4N HPA (99.99%+) Al2O3 using a traditional process.

UQ School of Chemical Engineering Associate Professor, Dr James Vaughan said he was delighted with the work on HPA provisional patent application.

“We have worked in close collaboration with Abercorn over the past 12 months and are delighted that a provisional patent application has been lodged. We look forward to further developing our research work on behalf of Metalsearch Ltd.” Associate Professor, Dr James Vaughan said.

[1] https://www.chemeng.uq.edu.au/research

[2] Verified Market Research – Global Synthetic Zeolite Market Size & Forecast to 2026

The University of Queensland
School of Chemical Engineering

Synthetic Zeolite
Mineral Processing Technology
(patent-pending)

Before

Abercorn Kaolin

After

Zeolite Type A

About synthetic zeolites

Synthetic zeolites are manufactured aluminosilicate minerals with a sponge-like structure, made up of tiny pores that make them useful as frameworks for catalysts or ultrafine filters. They are commonly known as molecular sieves and can be designed to selectively adsorb molecules or ions.

Zeolites act much like a magnet that can hold cations, like heavy metal, ammonia, low level radioactive elements, toxins, petrochemicals, many different type of gases and a multitude of various solutions.

The selectivity properties of different synthetic zeolites enable them to be effective in wastewater treatment applications, water filters and as ion exchangers in many everyday dishwashing and laundry detergents.

Synthetic zeolites can be manufactured for specific applications in a range of industrial environments, the primary types are:

Zeolite A

Zeolite A is a sodium aluminosilicate and is utilized as a builder in tablets and detergent powders for the water softening in washing process. This type of zeolite is also known as Linde Type A (LTA), which belongs to the aluminosilicate molecular sieves family. Sodium ions present in zeolite A can be replaced with other cations, including potassium, lithium, and calcium. There are around 150 synthetic zeolites designed for the specific purposes. However, the most common type is zeolite type A which is primarily used as a detergent builder.

Zeolite X

Zeolite X belongs to Faujasite family which are used as catalysts and sorbents. There are several different types of zeolite X dependent on pore size. It is mainly used in the gas drying applications, however, it has a variety of industrial applications, including gas separation and adsorption, besides being utilized as a catalyst. Zeolite X ion exchange properties also make it effective in removing toxins from waste water.

Zeolite ZSM-5

Zeolite Zsm-5 belongs to pentasil family of zeolites . This type of zeolite is extensively utilized in the petroleum sector as a heterogeneous catalyst. It is comprised of numerous pentasil units combined together to form pentasil chains by oxygen bridges. These pentasil chains form corrugated sheets with interconnected oxygen bridges. ZSM-5 main applications are in fine chemical production processes.

Zeolite Y

Zeolite Y is utilized as a fluid cracking catalyst of heavy petroleum distillates to increase the yield of diesel and gasoline fuel from crude oil. Zeolite Y is among the most popular catalysts due to its properties, such as good hydrothermal stability and inherent surface acidity. The hydrothermal and thermal stability of the zeolite Y is associated with its silica and alumina ratio that plays crucial role in materials produced for applications, such as  catalytic cracking catalysts in the oil industry.

Primary applications:

  • Detergent builder
  • Separation and purification ie Water treatments and air purification
  • Cracking processes ie Oil and Gas industry
  • Soil conditioning and agricultural supplements

Our proprietary mineral processing technology also presents as a potential remediation solution for clay bearing mine tailings, by applying tail streams as feed for low cost production of zeolites.

Detergent

Synthetic zeolites play an important role as ion exchangers in many everyday dishwashing and laundry detergents, assisting to remove calcium and magnesium and soften water so they work more effectively. Synthetic zeolites are sought after as a detergent builder as they present an environmentally friendly substitute for toxic phosphates (which are banned in the USA, Europe, Australia and some parts of Asia).

Water treatment

The rise in adoption of synthetic zeolite based adsorbents in major end use industries including water treatment, chemicals and petrochemicals particularly in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Latin America has boosted the growth of the market and this is expected to continue over the next decade.

Rising environmental concerns regarding wastewater health hazards have triggered regulatory bodies across the globe to mandate the use of synthetic zeolite based adsorbents. The stringent regulatory norms specifically in the U.S. and Europe to disinfect both water and air have also been boosting the demand for adsorbents [1]

Other applications

Synthetic zeolite is also used as a catalyst in the pharmaceutical and petroleum industries, in catalytic crackers to break large hydrocarbon molecules into gasoline, diesel, kerosene and waxes.

Zeolites are used in agriculture to improve soil conditions, control release of fertilizers and increase water use efficiency, in turn improving yield synthetic zeolites are used in soil conditioners. They also have potential applications as inputs in animal feed supplements.

Exclusive global Licence Agreement to produce Synthetic Zeolites. 

[1] Verified Market Research “Global Synthetic Zeolite Market Size & Forecast to 2026”

High Purity Alumina (HPA)

The HPA market is experiencing significant growth. Demand is primarily being driven by sapphire glass and lithium-ion batteries. HPA is a very pure form of aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and a pre-cursor material required for the manufacturing of sapphire glass and ceramic coated Lithium-Ion-Battery separators.

Synthetic Sapphire

HPA is a critical input in the production of synthetic sapphire – one which has no substitute. Applications:

  • Substrates for LED lights, Lenses and Semiconductors
  • Scratch-resistant sapphire glass used for optical lenses, watch faces, televisions, tablet and smartphone components
  • Bio-medical devices and Phosphors

The higher brightness, energy efficiency, and longer life span of LED lights are some of the major factors that offer tremendous opportunities for LED lighting market in years to come.

Lithium-ion Batteries

HPA’s fastest growing market is in Lithium-ion batteries.

HPA is now being used as a coating on the separators in Lithium-ion batteries in the EV industry.

The separator is vital to the safety, integrity and performance of the Lithium-ion battery in vehicles where the battery is subjected to peculiar stresses. In the past most Lithium-ion battery separators were based on polyethylene or polypropylene which were adequate for cathodes such as lithium iron phosphate, lithium manganese oxide and lithium cobalt oxides. This has been fine up until recently when demand for higher energy density in a smaller more compact battery has meant higher operating temperatures in the batteries.

This is where the use of HPA coated separators becomes extremely important in reducing flammability as the separators can tolerate much higher temperatures than traditional separators (>200oC), resulting in thermal stability.

HPA coated separators have also been shown to significantly lengthen battery life due to lower self-discharge and increased battery discharge rate.

CRU demand forecast for 4N HPA in lithium-ion batteries is set to increase at an extraordinary CAGR of 57.5% between 2017 and 2025.

https://www.crugroup.com/about-cru/news/2019/cru-consulting-australia-commissioned-to-investigate-opaque-9999-pure-alumina/

MSE lodges Patent Application for HPA Production Process.