Australian Bauxite (ABx) says the discovery of extraordinarily thick bauxite at Mt Rae near Taralga in southern New South Wales has resulted in an expansion of the pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the Goulburn bauxite project.

ABx and Marubeni Corporation are conducting the PFS and say the zone of thick bauxite increases the resource potential of the Taralga bauxite district, 40km north of Goulburn. During the last 12 months, bauxite resources have already increased by 50% from 25 million tonnes to the current estimate of 38 million tonnes.

The PFS was initially focused on a conservative, lowest-capital cost case of 1.2 million tonnes per annum of bauxite delivered to ship at Port Kembla. A second study was also based on the same scale but involved higher rail capital costs in order to reduce the operating costs.

ABx chief executive officer Ian Levy says, “Continued drilling over the Goulburn bauxite project in the March quarter intercepted high grade bauxite of extraordinary thicknesses in excess of 30 metres which is probably the thickest bauxite ever discovered in Australia. This significant discovery substantially increased the scope of the project and warranted extending the modelling to provide for significant ramp-up possibilities.

“We are in discussions with a number of potential customers and are confident that the demand and price for our low silica, gibbsite DSO bauxite will be mutually beneficial to our customers and to Australian Bauxite Limited.”

Once the PFS is complete Marubeni can opt to acquire a 35% joint venture interest in the Goulburn-Taralga bauxite project.

Meantime, the company’s 2012 drill program at its Binjour bauxite project in central Queensland has intersected a thick layer of bauxite beneath surface clay, named ‘Brown Sugar’ bauxite by ABx.

“Binjour is destined to sell large tonnages of bauxite to alumina refineries needing ‘sweetener’ bauxite that processes at low temperature and with low reactive silica contents. It is very exciting to discover the southern half of the large Binjour plateau with bauxite lying right at surface,” says Ian Levy.

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