For those who like to follow the money, Robert Friedland’s latest investment may be of interest: a Melbourne-based company that has proprietary technology in oxidized metal recovery.
In May Friedland made an initial investment of $1.84 million in convertible notes in Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX: CLQ), which if converted to ordinary shares, would add up to an 11.4% interest in the company. Since then, Friedland has subscribed to another $1.73 million in convertible notes, which would bring his stake in the company to 19.9%.
Friedland noted during his initial investment that the research-and development-focused company has an operating track record of more than two decades, and has developed and commercialized proprietary technology before.
In a prepared statement, he said that “Clean TeQ’s expertise in separation and purification technologies for water treatment and metal recovery makes it a leading innovator of technologies that have real importance for the future.”
Clean TeQ’s commercial breakthrough came in 2007, when BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) bought a licence for its continuous resin-in-pulp processing (cRIP) technology for laterite–nickel resources.
CRIP extracts metals from leached pulps (up to 50% w/w solids) using proprietary ion-exchange resins. The resin is mixed with the slurry in a series of contractors and moved countercurrent to the flow of slurry.
Clean TeQ’s CEO Peter Voight says that the resin can also come in contact with slurry during leaching, for metal extraction using the continuous resin-in-leach (cRIL) process, and says that sometimes, cRIL yields higher leach-recovery rates when leaching lixiviants are reduced.
He says that “this process is especially applicable to gold-bearing ores that contain preg-robbing components.”
Voight says that developing resin-based technology “opens up a raft of possible resource plays that have been deemed uneconomic based on conventional technology, such as leach–CCD–SX,” adding that resin-in-pulp technology can extract, concentrate and purify metals using intensive and cost-effective steps, which “can change the investment proposition in base, precious and strategic metals.”
The technology is strongest in lower-grade oxide ores, such as gold, copper, cobalt, uranium and other polymetallic deposits.
The company is expanding its reach in the resource business and has announced that it plans to fully acquire the Leigh Creek copper mine (LCCM) from Phoenix Copper (ASX: PNX). After test work, Clean TeQ plans to restart operations at the mine using its cRIP technology.
LCCM’s assets include the Mountain of Light copper mine in South Australia, 120 km east of Olympic Dam, and all of the mine’s related infrastructure. Operations at the Mountain of Light mine were stopped in 2011 “after the heap-leach flow sheet failed to produce an economically viable performance.”
In its prime, the mine produced 400 tonnes of copper cement. The mine has a Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resource of 2.18 million tonnes of ore grading 0.9% copper, for a total 19,600 tonnes of contained copper.
The mine is on care and maintenance, with infrastructure comprising heap-leach facilities, such as leach pads and PLS ponds, a copper cement-processing facility, power and water connections, and wet and dry analytical laboratories.
Clean TeQ is also developing scandium recovery.
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