Other players to watch:
Altech Chemicals (ASX:ATC) has been progressing its HPA plans for several years now and has just commenced pre-feasibility studies for construction of a battery materials HPA plant in Saxony, Germany.
Under the proposed first phase, the plant will be capable of producing 10,000tpa of anode graphite using the company’s alumina coating technology.
It had previously reported that the testing of batteries with graphite particles coated with HPA using its technology had exceeded expectations, though no details were provided.
The company is also in the midst of securing the balance of finance for its Malaysian HPA plant.
Latin Resources (ASX:LRS) holds the Noombenberry project in WA where recent drilling has intersected high-grade halloysite and ultra-bright kaolin zones.
The latest results show consistent high grade halloysite with assays topping up at 8m at 35 per cent halloysite within a broader 26m intersection grading 24 per cent halloysite. Preliminary work for the upcoming JORC resource is on track for release in the second quarter of 2021.
PepinNini Minerals (ASX:PNN) is one of the new entrants into the kaolin scene with managing director Rebecca Holland-Kennedy saying that the company had been looking for a suitable project for some time.
She noted that its recent acquisition of Hillside Minerals and its kaolin clay tenements in South Australia was sparked by the market interest in Kaolin, or potentially the higher grade halloysite product, which could command a premium price while remaining simple to explore for.
“The market for halloysite is increasing as uses are defined. So we see potential for growth and with relatively simple exploration and processing and the location in South Australia a project that complements our lithium project,” Holland-Kennedy added.
“We would be looking at the HPA sector as halloysite is a feedstock for HPA manufacture.” The two Hillside licences directly adjoin Andromeda’s tenements and cover 1,129sqkm with recorded occurrences of kaolin clay.
Upcoming work includes regional interpretation, reconnaissance work and mapping, geophysics and drilling.
Suvo Strategic Minerals (ASX:SUV) owns Australia’s only operating hydrous kaolin plant – the Pittong plant in Ballarat, Victoria, which it acquired from French multinational Imerys S.A. late last year.
Executive chairman Robert Martin says that the company plans to quadruple production from Pittong over the next 18 months and is also in the process of developing an ever-larger plant in Western Australia.
“Having the only plant capable of producing hydrous kaolin allows us to access the higher value end user markets. We’re targeting paper, paint, ceramics and coatings,” he noted. “We inherited more than 360 clients when we bought Pittong, so we have a ready-made market.