If the number of news releases is anything to go by, Orbite Aluminae of Montreal is hands down the busiest mineral industry player in Canada. The company has made four major announcements in the past week alone. And since Orbite released the revised preliminary economic assessment on its smelter grade alumina (SGA) plant at the end of May, it has issued seven releases.
The company is keeping its investor relations department so busy because it has lots going on as it advances it Grande-Vallée alumina-rare earths project and has broken ground for a commercial processing facility.
Let’s take this chronologically:
May 31 – Filing of the revised PEA, mostly fine tuning. The report considered one scenario wherein alumina and hematite only are produced and a second scenario that would add oxides and rare earths to the output. The second plan is Orbit’s preferred choice as the project could recoup its $500-million investment in a year.
June 5 – Orbite launched its 2012 exploration drilling campaign at Grande-Vallée and announced it had filed a patent application for a process that will recover rare earths without first having to remove the alumina from the ore. That brought to 23 the number of patents the company has filed in nine countries, and it has been awarded three so far.
June 12 – The company noted that it has been added to two Standard & Poor’s indices, the Global Mining Index and the Global Base Metals Index. Orbite tooted its own horn a bit more when it revealed that it has been named a finalist in the Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards.
June 14 – Construction is underway to convert the pilot plant to a commercial high purity alumina (HPA) production plant in Cap-Chat, QC.
June 21 – Orbite announced that testing boosted recovery rates for rare earth oxides and rare earth metals 23% from the rates applied to the revised PEA of only three weeks earlier.
June 22 – The official ground breaking ceremony was held for the HPA plant. Among those attending the ceremony was Dr. Yves Bolduc, provincial minister of health and social services and minister responsible for the Gaspesie-Iles-de-la-Madeleine region and Bas-Saint-Laurent region.
June 26 – Orbite becomes the first successful company to separate heavy rare earth oxides from a North American shale clay deposit.
June 27 – Results from the company’s red mud remediation process are positive. Red mud residue is left after alumina has been extracted from bauxite using the Bayer process. Orbit also announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Asian giant Nalco in the hopes that the remediation process can be commercialized.
The aluminous clay deposit at Grande-Vallée is the natural feed source for the company’s cutting edge technologies, but it also plans to market its patented processes internationally. Orbite is actively pursuing patents and partnerships around the globe.
Orbite is clearly at the top of its game. One new plant (HPA) under construction and another (SGA) under study. Over $70 million