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A joint venture is taking a major undeveloped vanadium resource in North-West Queensland to the next level, launching a definitive feasibility study to mine the Lilyvale deposit.

Work to date shows the mining and processing operation could be brought online at a cost of $242.2 million and that it would carry an NPV (net present value) of $613 million.

Initial job estimates are about 200, with recruitment to focus on the Richmond region, however – due to the small local population – a 100-person accommodation would also be built to support a FIFO and DIDO workforce.

Horizon Minerals and its Richmond-Julia Creek joint venture partner Richmond Vanadium Technology propose a shallow open pit mining operation producing 101.5Mt of oxide ore, with concentrate production on site to turn out an average of 12,700 tonnes vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) per year.

“The Richmond-Julia Creek project is one of the largest undeveloped oxide vanadium resources in the world and can produce globally significant supply for both the steel and emerging energy storage markets,” Horizon managing director Jon Price said.

“Restricted supply and increased demand have resulted in a sustained increase in prices, with the initial 25-year mine life at Lilyvale generating an NPV of $613 million at current spot prices.

“What sets this project apart is its minimal impact on the environment with shallow open pit mining, progressive rehabilitation, low capex, conventional processing and first quartile operating costs.

“We look forward to the completion of the DFS in 2022 and believe the project can have significant economic development benefits to regional Queensland and the national economy.”

Vanadium is classed as a critical mineral, with applications including battery technology for large scale storage, and the Julia Creek-Richmond region has been dubbed the ‘Bowen Basin of battery metals’.

The Richmond-Julia Creek vanadium project is located about 50km north-west of Richmond.

RVT now holds a 75 per cent interest in the project (Horizon 25 per cent) after completing an initial $1 million earn-in period in March 2018 followed by second-stage expenditure commitment of $5 million over three years.

The Mineral Resource for the Lilyvale deposit within the Richmond-Julia Creek project area stands 560Mt grading 0.48 per cent V2O5 for 2.6Mt V2O5 at a 0.30 per cent cut-off, while the maiden open pit ore reserve is estimated at 459.2Mt at 0.49 per cent V2O5 for 2.25Mt of contained V2O5 product.

The prefeasibility study indicated a mining contractor would be engaged to conduct the mining activities with technical and managerial oversight provided by RVT.

A total of 8.4Mt of total material would be mined per annum, generating 4.06Mt of ore mined from the open
pit for concentration.

Horizon (formerly known as Intermin Resources) said this mining rate would yield a nominal mine life of over 100 years at Lilyvale. For the purposes of the economic analysis in the feasibility work, a mine life of only 25 years was used.

Richmond vanadium plans advance to DFS