Orbite Announces Major Achievements And Final Design of Smelter-Grade Alumina (SGA) Plant

Oct 02, 2012, 07:30 ET from Orbite Aluminae Inc.

MONTREAL, Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Orbite Aluminae Inc. (TSX:ORT / OTCQX:EORBF) (the "Company" or "Orbite") is pleased to announce major technical achievements and the final design phase of the smelter-grade alumina (SGA) plant.  With the support of M&K, a North American leader in chemical process design, Orbite successfully modified the SGA plant design by incorporating the best practices from the chemical industry and expanding the breadth of its innovative processes, resulting in a significant reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels by at least 30%, and of water by at least 60%.   These advancements should lead to a major reduction in the number of operational units required in various aspects of the SGA plant, and provide the basis for a decrease of the estimated operating and capital costs.  The final design of the SGA plant is expected to ensure the consistent production of high-quality smelter-grade alumina, while improving Orbite's position as a low-cost producer and leader for clean technologies for the alumina industry.

"These advancements represent a major achievement for Orbite," said Richard Boudreault, Orbite's President and CEO. "By simplifying and optimizing the SGA plant design, we succeeded in our goal of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels while significantly improving the plant economics. This consolidates our position as one of the lowest-cost and environmentally-friendly producers of alumina and its by-products."

As part of the final design of the SGA plant, Orbite developed and incorporated a new proprietary calcination technique using circulating fluid beds that operate at lower temperatures and enable the heat generated from calcination to be reused in the hydrochloric acid regeneration system, thereby, reducing fossil fuel consumption by at least 30%.  The final design also reflects important changes to the acid leaching and acid recovery/regeneration systems.  Water consumption has been reduced by 60%, resulting in lower volumes of acid solution.  These lower volumes automatically reduce the number of separation/crystallization and acid regeneration units required, as well as the number of units required for the individual extraction of by-products. These design improvements are anticipated to have a considerable impact on the plant economics since alumina calcination represented 55% of fossil fuel costs, which in turn represented 60% of all SGA operating costs.  The SGA operating cost savings are estimated to be in the order of 20% relative to the PEA (Orbite's Revised Preliminary Economic Assessment dated May 30, 2012.  According to Canadian 43-101 regulations, mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability).

The SGA plant Feasibility Study, which has now entered the detailed engineering and sub-system integration phase, will be modified to incorporate the final design of the SGA plant, and is now anticipated to be completed during the first half of 2013.  Construction of the first phase of the first SGA plant is still anticipated to begin in 2013 with completion by late 2014.

"Orbite's unique patented technology has reached another milestone", said Denis Primeau, Orbite's Chief Engineer. "The final design of the SGA plant is now set and brings us one step closer to construction.  As anticipated, the integration of previously separate subsystems, as part of the optimization process, and the inclusion of innovations from the chemical industry yielded important synergies.  The key drivers were substantial reductions in the quantity of water and energy consumption, both critical factors for chemical processes and improves our environmental footprint.  By utilizing circulating fluid beds, our proprietary calcination technique will differ completely from the rest of the alumina industry and will enable our plants to meet and exceed the industry standard for smelter grade alumina.  Our ability to innovate technologically while improving the economics of our process through the integration of best practices from the chemical industry has been truly remarkable."

"For M&K, it is obvious that the Orbite process, which we are tasked with integrating as part of the Feasibility Study, has not only been demonstrated using commercially available equipment but also represents the first viable alternative to the Bayer process for the production of smelter grade alumina", added Stanley Myer, M&K's co-founder.  "The final design of the SGA plant was established by M&K with Orbite's engineering team and we have validated the improvements cited today. Since it was established, M&K has always been involved in major chemical process projects such as that of Orbite's.  As such, all of the equipment, products and by-products under consideration by Orbite are within the realm and expertise of our company."

The technical content in this press release has been reviewed and approved by Denis Primeau, Eng., a "qualified person" pursuant to National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure of Mineral Projects (NI 43-101). Mr. Primeau is the Chief Engineer of Orbite, and as such, is not independent pursuant to NI 43-101.

About Orbite

Orbite Aluminae Inc. or "Orbite" (TSX:ORT; OTCQX: EORBF) is a Canadian cleantech company whose unique technology could have a significant impact on the aluminum industry. Our innovative process allows for the environmentally sustainable production of smelter grade alumina, high-purity alumina and high-quality high-value by-products —including rare earths—from locally sourced aluminous clay and other feedstocks including bauxite, kaolin, nepheline, red mud and fly ash.  Orbite plans to operate several smelter grade alumina (SGA) and high-purity alumina (HPA) plants as well as license its technologies to well-qualified producers aiming to reduce their costs and environmental footprint. 

The Company owns the intellectual property rights to the patented and proprietary process for extracting alumina from aluminous ores in Canada, USA and Australia, and for which other international patents are also pending for our eleven different families of intellectual property rights.  Our process is environmentally friendly and does not produce any red mud.  The process extracts and recovers all constituent elements of the feedstocks, thereby producing high-quality alumina and other high-value by-products.  The process is enabled by recent innovations in industrial technology and chemical process design that were previously unavailable or unknown to the alumina industry.  Orbite built and operated a commercial-scale pilot plant that succeeded in producing commercial samples of smelter grade alumina as well as high-purity alumina and rare earths.

Orbite has exclusive mining rights on over a total of 60,984 hectares in the Gaspe region of Quebec, including the 6,665 hectare Grande-Vallee property, site of an aluminous clay deposit containing an NI 43-101 compliant 1 billion tonnes Indicated Resource sufficient to satisfy a half-century of the total Canadian alumina imports (mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability).  Orbite's first High-Purity Alumina (HPA) plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec is currently under construction and due to begin production by year-end at an initial production capacity of 1 tpd increasing to 3 tpd in 2013 and to 5 tpd by 2014.  The Feasibility Study for Orbite's first SGA plant has advanced to the detailed engineering phase.  An NI 43-101 Revised Technical report, "Preliminary Economic Assessment on Orbite Aluminae Inc. Metallurgical Grade Alumina Project" dated May 30, 2012 is available on SEDAR (www.sedar.com).  Orbite has signed a memorandum of understanding with the world's largest aluminum producer, UC Rusal, for participation in the first phase of the first SGA plant. 

Orbite has published a series of white papers on the potential markets for its technology including the production of alumina and extraction of rare metals from multiple feedstocks which are available on our website (www.orbitealuminae.com/en/technology/white-paper).

Forward-looking statements

Certain information contained in this document may include "forward-looking information". Without limiting the foregoing, the information and any forward-looking information may include statements regarding projects, costs, objectives and future returns of the Company or hypotheses underlying these items. In this document, words such as "may", "would", "could", "will", "likely", "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "plan", "estimate" and similar words and the negative form thereof are used to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of whether, or the times at or by which, such future performance will be achieved. Forward-looking statements and information are based on information available at the time and/or the Company management's good-faith beliefs with respect to future events and are subject to known or unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other unpredictable factors, many of which are beyond the Company's control. These risks uncertainties and assumptions include, but are not limited to, those described in the section of the Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) entitled "Risk and Uncertainties" as filed on March 22, 2012 on SEDAR, and could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements. The Company does not intend, nor does it undertake, any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information or statements contained in this document to reflect subsequent information, events or circumstances or otherwise, except as required by applicable laws.


SOURCE Orbite Aluminae Inc.