In the 1980’s a consortium of companies focused on topaz production at Torrington building a pilot plant for topaz recovery with the concentrate product being used to produce mullite, a refractory mineral. Despite proving the high performance of the product, the consortium could not obtain financial support for large scale mining and processing of topaz and eventually the individual companies went their separate ways. During this time, some of the topaz was used in the shipping industry as an abrasive (sand blasting).
In recent months the Company held meetings with the scientists and institutions involved in the previous research programmes on the topaz concentrate from Torrington and all the documentation from their work was compiled and handed to an internationally renowned research institution for third party evaluation. It was concluded that the research completed by CSIRO and University of NSW was of extremely high standard and that no further or verification testwork was required on the mullite produced and that the Company should progress the work into further downstream high-value product research.
It has been shown that in the planned processing plant that topaz will be recovered either during the initial processing to recover the tungsten, or afterwards by retreating the middling and waste streams. At a processing rate of 500,000 tpa of ore, it is theoretically possible to co-produce in the order of 90,000 tpa of topaz as a by-product. This sheer volume of topaz that may be produced as by-product warrants investigation into its potential markets and products as both a bulk industrial feedstock material and / or high-added value small volume commodity such as mullite. Success in this endeavour will contribute to the financial robustness on the project and remove the reliance of producing one product (tungsten) only.
TopTung has entered into an agreement (ASX 7th September 2016) with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to conduct research into developing fibres of mullite from aluminosilicate raw materials such as topaz. For this purpose, TopTung has registered a wholly-owned subsidiary TopFibre (Pty) Limited that will partner with UNSW.
The research programme to be undertaken at the School of Materials Science and Engineering will have a specific goal to explore the potential for developing fibres of mullite from aluminosilicate raw materials such as topaz. The work will involve the mineralogical and microstructural characterisation of the mullite fibres as well as analysis of the mullite-glass-mullite interface using these and other techniques.
The goal of the project will be to assess the feasibility of various raw materials for use in the generation of these fibres and to provide the basic data for an ARC* Linkage Project proposal application in late 2016 on the generation of single-crystal mullite fibres from these mineral resources. This potential co-funded Federal Government 3-year research programme will if successful include the commercial viability of producing single-crystal mullite fibres from topaz, which are high-value products.
To view an Information Brochure on Torrington Topaz click here
To view an Information Brochure on Torrington Mullite click here
*Australian Research Council