Clay Alumina: because we’re worth it

2 11 2009

I am in the mood for new things and new plays. Because the beginning of a new week calls for something refreshing, let’s discuss Exploration Orbite’s plan to extract aluminous clay (I may be victim of a botched translation here) from its Grande Vallée property located near Murdochville in Gaspésie, QC. The project has the potential to deliver both high grade specialty and metallurgical alumina and to generate some economic activity in a decaying region of Québec.

Exploration work undertaken has shown that the red clay deposit (Exploration Orbite’s leases total 3 457, 25 hectares) contained a relatively high alumina content (between 23% and 26%) that the company plans on extracting to upgrade it into high purity alumina to cater to markets beyond aluminium production. Specialty alumina can be used in the production of artificial gems and in fibre optics among other things. To go from clay to high purity alumina, the company has purchased the results of a Laval University doctoral thesis that conducted laboratory trials that succeeded in extracting between 97 and 100% pure alumina. Further work was undertaken in Centre d´études des procédés chimiques du Québec (CÉPROCQ) two or three years ago and which led to the conclusion that the process is cost-effective and that is economically viable to extract clay alumina from the deposit.

Exploration Orbite is now at the stage of building a pilot plant and has sought government support that granted the company with loans from both the provincial and federal government as part of regional economic development programs. The plant will be located in Cap Chat, (in the former Alpha Quartz Systems plant) relatively nearby the deposit. The first time that I heard about this project, the plant was to be located in Sept-Îles adjacent to Aluminerie Alouette’s facilities, a partner to the project. However, it seems that governments were seeking to have a little more bang for their buck and made their support conditional to the processing taking place in the region. After all, Gaspésie has had a poor economic performance for decades.

The presence of Aluminerie Alouette is interesting. The smelter is owned by an international consortium and is a standalone smelter. This, however, is a bit a too succinct description that fails to acknowledge the specificity of the facilities. Aluminerie Alouette is the third biggest in the world and has established itself as an industry leader with regards to the energy efficiency of its operations. Not being part of an integrated aluminium production system, the smelter sources its alumina internationally. With China demand pushing prices of raw materials higher, sourcing alumina locally can be an interesting solution. The size of the resource has not been made public and it is thus unclear whether Exploration Orbite’s supply could meet the smelter’s needs.

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3 responses

3 11 2009
LVZ

First, let me congratulate you on the proper translation for “argile alumineuse”. According to Terminum Plus, aluminous clay is the proper wording.

Second, I do believe that the government wanted more bang for their buck in investing in Cap-Chat. The Alpha Quartz Systems plant was bought for a mere $325,000, which is a really cheap price to pay for some capital assets.

With $800,000 from the Feds, and $2.1millions from the Provs, I agree this project is on the right track.

Thanks for the info!

24 11 2009
LVZ

SCOOP SCOOP!!!!

Your favourite aluminium smelter Alouette just announced they will invest 1million into Orbite for the clay alumina project… source: Lapresse Affaire Tuesday, November 24, 2009 P. 11 (bottom)

10 03 2013
Audrea

Thoroughly useful information on Clay Alumina:
because were worth it | Just Digging: a Mining and Metals blog.

Keep blogging..

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