Australian Bauxite Limited (ABx) holds the core of the newly discovered Eastern Australian Bauxite Province. Its 29 bauxite tenements in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania covering 8,500 km2 were rigorously selected on 3 principles:
1. good quality bauxite;
2. proximity to infrastructure connected to export ports; and,
3. free of socio-environmental or native title land constraints.
All tenements are 100% owned and free of obligations for processing and third-party royalties.
ABx has already discovered many new bauxite deposits and discoveries are still being made as knowledge and expertise develops.
The ABx objective is to define several deposits (or groups of deposits) containing 100 - 200 million tonnes each in several sectors along the east coast of Australia.
The main focus is on quality because it is essential to produce premium quality bauxite in order to establish market presence.
During two years of extensive field work the ABx team made discoveries of new bauxite outcrops and exposures and defined new targets for drilling which are located up to 100km from the nearest bauxite occurrences reported in literature. Exploration for new targets continues contemporaneously with drill testing of targets defined to date.
The Company’s bauxite deposits are favourably located for direct shipping of bauxite to both local and export customers. The ABx discoveries of bauxite in Tasmania are yet to be evaluated by drilling but bauxite is confirmed to extend over relatively large areas.
The bauxite is high quality and can be processed into alumina at low temperature – the type that is in short-supply globally. At the company’s first drilling prospect in Inverell (northern New South Wales) a maiden resource of 38 million tonnes has been reported from drilling 10-15% of the area prospective for bauxite.
Australian Bauxite Limited aspires to identify bauxite resources in excess of 200 million tonnes in one of the world’s best bauxite provinces. ABx has the potential to create significant bauxite developments in three states - Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.
Historic reports (mainly 1920 – 1954) on investigations of bauxite deposits in eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland provided a good starting base.
Tonnage estimates made up to 1954 were relatively modest. According to H. B. Owen (Bauxite in Australia, Bureau of Mineral Resources Bulletin no. 24), in 1954 the largest known bauxite deposit was Parish’s:
4,755,000 long tonnes averaging
Available Al203 - Al203 soluble in 10 percent NaOH solution boiling at atmospheric pressure.
ABx has secured this deposit, which is known as Target A – located in Inverell (EL 6997). Drill testing undertaken in January - February and August 2009 confirmed the silica and alumina content and the thickness of bauxite layer (about 7 metres), however the tonnage potential is an order of magnitude larger than the historical estimate. Further information is available under ABx Mainland Tenements.
Historical context is as follows:
The Parish team tested 15 other deposits in the Inverell region.
Their testing programme started in January 1947. In June 1948 the team was redeployed to Wingello [now within our Wingello West EL 7279 and Penrose EL 7546 tenements], where two deposits containing about 1.9 million long tons and 1.45 million long tons respectively
In the late 1940s to early 1950s there was no domestic alumina or aluminium metal production and imports of aluminium metal amounted to 16,456 tons (Owen, 1954 – page 7).
An alumina and aluminium plant was under construction at Bell Bay in Tasmania at that time. Planned production rate was 26,000 tons of alumina and 13,000 tons of aluminium metal per annum (Alan Trengove – Discovery / Stories of modern mineral exploration – Stockwell Press, 1979).
Bauxite deposits known in Tasmania at the time contained sufficient tonnages of appropriate quality for the plant at Bell Bay so that the deposits at Inverell and Wingello were considered to represent a back-up for the longer term. There was no need to continue testing of extensions to increase tonnages in known deposits. Reserves reported at that time are therefore modest.
Those who studied historical reports but did not take into consideration historical context made erroneous conclusions that deposits in easily accessible parts of eastern New South Wales and south-east Queensland were small.
A bauxite deposit was discovered in 1955 at Weipa on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Due to its very remote location and total lack of infrastructure, it was essential to prove up large tonnage and develop a project on a large scale to make it economically viable.
In the period 1960 to 2000, large deposits like Weipa and Gove (Northern Territory) located in very remote sites and large low grade deposits in favourable locations in West Australia (and similar large projects overseas, notably in the Republic of Guinea and in the Amazon region of Brazil) were able to meet global demand for bauxite.
However, in recent years there were significant changes in supply and demand. Large deposits discovered in the late 1950s to 1970s are still capable of meeting demand however, after a very long period of mining and a degree of high-grading, the quality of bauxite is in decline.
Some large bauxite deposits that were discovered by the 1970s still remain to be developed but because of a high cost remote locations, and other major problems which caused postponement of mine development, one can expect further postponements because the problems remain.
Increasing political problems and eruptions of conflicts resulting in tragic loss of life in some of the bauxite producing countries (for example the Republic of Guinea) is another significant factor affecting the global bauxite supply–demand balance.
For such reasons, bauxite deposits in favourable low cost locations such as those held by ABx will be developed ahead of those in remote locations.