This is our second newsletter following on from last July; I thank you for all the kind responses. Our letters are quarterly. We hope to cover a continued commentary of our activities and developments.
July to September is our summer months, our River and Bengal Island field trip activities cease due to high water levels. This summer we did work in the beach regions that are unaffected and continued research on our early year activities.
This section we have featured information on the benefits of a Pilot Plant and our external article is about the Bengal Island land accretion. We have continued our market report.
Please read on!
The journey so far…. July to September
Late July during Ramadan we had the pleasure of introducing a prominent Chinese company to Bangladesh.
A reciprocal visit to China is planned for October which may lead to more collaboration and teamwork.
We visited Teknaf peninsular and the Beach Sands Mineral Exploration Centre at Cox’s Bazar (BSMEC)
Our ongoing exploration sample analysis program returned Dhal Char mineral separation samples from the BSMEC and Alatuli XRF samples from Joypurhart. At the Dhaka University, textural analysis, and HM separation was completed for Dhal Char. Typically we find the Island results more positive, further confirmation of this is expected after further work. The Teknaf region however, shows to be the most positive in Bangladesh so far.
We are heading towards an exciting final quarter for this year with ongoing discussion with partners and exploration starting October.
For 2014 we are preparing for investment towards exploration, research and preparation for a bulk testing facility that will allow us to work out actual mineral recovery rates, show the market what we can produce and study the practicality of mineral sands processing in Bangladesh. Further research and investment into environmental safeguards unique to Bangladesh will be a major focus; we will also look at land or dune improvement techniques available in Australia.
Market review of sand minerals
Market Review of Mineral Sands
Zircon has uses in the ceramic, foundry, refractory, electronic, medical and chemical industries. It is prized for its thermal stability and reflective properties. It’s mostly used for ceramics.
Rutile contains titanium silicate and is sold to the pigment industry which manufactures products for the paint, coatings, paper and plastic industries.
Ilmenite is of lower titanium content than rutile and can be chemically upgraded to form synthetic rutile which thus becomes an alternative although slightly inferior rutile substitute.
Though China's economy has slowed in recent months, demand for zircon has been strong compared with other raw materials because of continuing robustness in the nation's housing market. Still, the average price per ton over twelve months fell to US$1700 from as high as US$3000. Demand in Europe for rutile, has come to a virtual standstill. We expect gains in prices as suppliers start to hold back on production.
Iluka who is the world’s largest producer of Zircon has cut its production of Zircon and Rutile by 40% to count for lower demand. Currently profits are down 88% compared to last year. Sales volumes are in fact slightly higher though with prices affecting profitability.
Information on product development in Bangladesh
It should be noted that prices are all dependent on the quality the product such as any impurities and the grain size of the mineral. The above prices are for refined Zircon, Rutile and Ilmenite.
Our export market from Bangladesh may initially be two products, Rutile and Zircon concentrate and a low grade Ilmenite; these products are processed again overseas. Complete processing in Bangladesh would take several years to fully develop and would depend on environmental considerations, power supply and mineral quality.
Further research into our concentrate will take place with the advent of a local bulk testing facility we will develop. Soon we will be able to more accurately determine market demand and value for the Bangladesh Mineral Suite.
What is a pilot plant?
A pilot plant is a small industrial system which is operated to generate information about the behaviour of the system for use in design of larger facilities.
Pilot plants are used to reduce the risk associated with construction of large process plants.
They do this by:
They are substantially less expensive to build than full-scale plants. The business does not put as much capital at risk on a project that may be inefficient or unfeasible.
Further, design changes can be made more cheaply at the pilot scale
They provide valuable data for design of the full-scale plant
Our plans for a pilot plant are in order to demonstrate the effect on the environment and to start small scale production in order to gain market acceptance of our products.
In Bangladesh where the extraction of mineral sands is new this will assist in the;
Development of the supply chain and logistics
Development of staff and training
Practise of responsible environmental management
Demonstrate excellence in safety and health
Partner with local community to develop economic and social infrastructure
Erosion Monitoring and Prediction of the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma Rivers of Bangladesh
CEGIS (Centre for Environmental and Geographical Information Services)
CEGIS held a dissemination seminar “Erosion Monitoring and Prediction of the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma Rivers of Bangladesh” on 22 April 2007. The slogan of the seminar was “Erosion Prediction for Poverty Reduction”.
CEGIS has developed methods for predicting bank erosion and morphological changes of the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma rivers. The prediction is based on dry season satellite images. The keynote illustrated that during the last 34 years (1973-2007) 88,780 ha, 27,990 ha and 38,510 ha of land have been eroded along the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma respectively.
The predictions made by CEGIS help different organizations take necessary measures for maintaining existing bank protection structures and plan new ones. This leads to the reduction of erosion related suffering and consequent poverty of the community.
Though the northern part of Bangladesh is prone to erode, the southern Bengal is acquiring more lands through accretion.
This is evident due to sand deposition across the Bay of Bengal islands causing the navigation channels to clog up with the increasing shoal sedimentation.
Due to the downstream impediment of the water current, the upstream natural flow is hindered and unusual siltation has been taking place decreasing the channel depth. Consequently, because of this blockage, during flooding, when water levels rise, the banks are overflown facilitating the river bank erosion severely.
It is PML’s believe that it is necessary to maintain good channels at the lower end of the Meghna to maintain the river flow above. Premier believes it may be able to participate if a shoal dredging