KWG NATURAL GAS CHROMIUM IP DIRECT REDUCTION IN A SOLID STATE
The impact of KWG Resources new Canadian patented process on possible future direct reduction of chromite processing, has the potential for global energy reductions equivalent to the effect of completely eliminating energy demand from a country the size of Italy.
KWG CEO Frank Smeenk said “We believe the direct reduction method can be combined with exceptionally low-cost Canadian energy to potentially provide this very large chromite discovery with tremendous production cost advantages. The method will also be improved by the further research work recently completed under the Chromite Research Project of Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET Mining laboratories. The award of this Patent will enable us to now vigorously pursue an opportunity to further develop the process with pilot plant testing in one of the strategic locales that have been under consideration.”
This new natural gas CHROMIUM IP, low temperature, ‘solid state’ reduction process, could have enormous global competitive advantages in terms of reduced capital cost, reduced operating cost, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
The potential for KWG’s Chromium IP process to completely revolutionize the world’s ferrochrome industry should not be underestimated. Its impact reaches far beyond exploitation of a regional natural resource.
The Canadian patent on the refining method yields a ferrochrome alloy (by reduction in solid-state without melting, in a reaction with natural gas).
In addition to benefits of the new reduction process itself, test work performed on Ring of Fire ores confirm that the Ring of Fire ores are generally more reducible, resulting in a 15-20% increase in unit capacity, compared to currently processed ores in other parts of the world.
Further, the chromium-iron alloy pellet product produced, can form part of the charge of conventional SAF furnaces producing ferro chrome, as batch or continuously charged components of the steel making process.
Our confidential laboratory test results show that smelters purchasing the metallised product would obtain a smelter capacity increase of 50% without any additional capital expenditure, reducing their effective capital cost from $1200 per annual ton to $800.
This dictates that a very substantial premium to the charge-chrome price may be commanded by this ferrochrome, which may also be readily purified to even higher-value ultra low-carbon ferrochrome, by argon-oxygen decarburization (AOD).
The opportunity to partner in piloting and commercializing KWG’s proprietary gas-reduction process can thus be exchanged for off-take terms with selected steel makers and AOD operators in China, Japan, Korea, and India, as they will all wish to participate in the advantages of highest purity, lowest cost and lowest emissions.
THE TORSTEIN ABSTRACT: LOWER CAPITAL COSTS & REDUCED OPERATING COSTS
“Reducing energy consumption by alternative processing routes to produce ferrochromium alloys from chromite ore“, a “game changing” abstract, delivered at the Torstein Utigard Memorial Symposium COM in 2015, reveals elements of a techno-economic study on this revolutionary new chromite reduction process. The study identifies a reduction in overall energy consumption of 70% against conventional processing and approximately 40% lower than the current best practice.
By utilizing more natural gas than coal based energy sources, the KWG process is able to show an overall 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with the most energy efficient current practice.
“The combinations of cheap natural gas and large quantities of high grade chromite in Northern Ontario have the potential to completely revolutionize the market for chrome units into stainless steel manufacture.”
GLENCORE XPS CONSULTING & TESTWORK SERVICES
In April of 2014, KWG Resources acquired from Frank Winter’s interests in two international patent applications after he successfully tested his formulation for refining chromite ore into ferrochrome with natural gas at Glencore’s XPS Laboratory on project #3013814.0023.
Many years ago, Rio Algom recruited Frank Winter to turn around its under-performing investment in Atlas Steel of Welland Ontario, Canada’s last stainless steel manufacturer.
He did so, then sold the company very profitably for Rio Algom, and continued his career as a stainless steel-maker and metals trader.
This ‘direct reduction’ method makes a very pure ferrochrome, but uses 70% less energy than conventional electric-arc refining and generates virtually no greenhouse gas emissions.
Based on the methodology employed, the conclusions are that the innovative process meets all the criteria initially set:
A century’s supply of premium-priced ferrochrome that could be made in Canada using natural gas, requiring less energy and lowering emissions.
Exploration for diamonds resulted in the discovery of an exceedingly large chromite occurrence just below the edge of the vast, flat wetlands of the James Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario in 2008.
Simultaneously, North America was becoming self-sufficient in oil from the fracking of shale, which also made available virtually boundless supplies of natural gas to North America’s pipeline networks. Ontario’s ‘Ring of Fire’ has the potential to become the globe’s largest and most profitable source of ferrochrome.
Ring of Fire chromite, when reduced to ferrochrome with natural gas, produces a uniquely pure product for making stainless steel.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA DULUTH, NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH INSTITUTE (NRRI) – COLERAINE LABORATORIES
In Septempber, 2017, Moe Lavigne, Vice President, KWG Resources Inc. visited the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Coleraine Laboratories. The NRRI’s Minerals Lab in Coleraine, Minn., solves short-term problems, identifies unique market niches, provides medium- to long-range technical innovation and develops future products and processes. The facility has an analytical laboratory along with mineral processing, metallurgical and pyrometallurgical processing capabilities.
Pyrometallurgy processing is focused on performing applied research in the areas of agglomeration, pelletizing, granulation, induration, sintering and associated physical/metallurgical quality assessment, primarily associated with the iron ore and direct-reduced iron industries.
This research area interacts closely with mineralogists, geologists, metallurgists, mineral processors, water researchers, energy researchers and chemists with the aim of improving process routes for metal extraction and product recovery. The goal is to develop cost-effective processes for sustainable and environmentally responsible extraction of metals from minerals while decreasing the negative environmental impact of metal extraction processes. It provides world class services for development of new mineral reserves, process flowsheet development, improvement of existing processes, and precise analysis of process changes before they are implemented for the ferrous and non-ferrous mineral processing industry.
Moe Lavigne explained that Ring of Fire ferrochrome successfully produced at a laboratory scale in the Coleraine laboratories, an important development because these initial types of tests are necessary in order to create the parameters required to begin the next step; a full pilot ‘commercial scale’ of gas reduction of chromite into ferrochome inside the linear hearth furnaces at Coleraine.
Laboratory scale could possibly lead to full commercial scale gas direct chromite reduction testing.
There have been three separate metallurgical laboratories that have worked on KWG’s natural gas, solid state, low-temperature reduction of Ring of Fire chromite ore into ferrochrome; XPS Consulting & Testwork Services, Natural Resources Canada Canmet Labs and now, Coleraine Research Laboratories.
The government of Canada has indicated that “the chromite deposits located in Ontario’s Ring of Fire have production potential that could make Canada a significant global producer, processor and supplier of products that contain the critical metal chromium”.
The Canada Canmet metallurgical facilities have been researching chromite for almost two years, and this summer, they successful produced ferrochromite carbide using KWG’s gas chromite reduction method.
In September of 2017, their labs revealed spectacular results producing much larger ferrochromite carbide crystals that were first produced at the XPS Consulting Labs.
The size of the crystals is extremely important because the larger the crystals, the easier is to separate them from the waste minerals.
In this field of mining research and development, it is standard practice to continue maximizing the size of the crystal through optimizing their growth variables and KWG will continue the Coleraine test work during the life time of the project.