Australian Zircon Resources and ASX Companies: Overview
The principal economic source of zirconium is the zirconium silicate mineral, zircon (ZrSiO4).
In a remarkably similar manner to the world's supply of REE metals and oxides China dominates the downstream zirconium business at ~90%.
And as China has recently declared Zirconium as a strategic metal this invokes the possibility of a world wide supply crunch for countries previously dependent on Chinese exports...... As a result of this looming supply deficit Zircon prices have increased by 50% during 2010 to US$1,500t and has reached $2,100t in 2011 and seem to be set to go much higher.
What is not widely known is Australia's place in this situation and the reasons why a supply crunch of Zircon could or most likely will have major implications for countries seeking to exploit nuclear energy......and for our ASX listed companies with large Zircon resources.
- Australia leads the world in zircon mining, producing 37% of the world total and accounting for 40% of world EDR (economic demonstrated resources) for the mineral.
- Zirconium is used in nuclear fuel cladding, chemical piping in corrosive environments, heat exchangers, and various specialty alloys.
- The major end uses of hafnium are in nuclear control rods, nickel-based super-alloys, nozzles for plasma arc metal cutting, and high-temperature ceramics.
N.B. Zircon is the primary source of all hafnium. Zirconium and hafnium are contained in zircon at a ratio of about 50 to 1.
Zircon is a co-product or by-product of the mining and processing of heavy-mineral sands for the titanium minerals, ilmenite and rutile, or tin minerals.
Below is a chart showing the latest resource data for
ASX listed companies with very large amounts (in world terms) of proven Zircon resources.
Note: ILUKA ASX: ILU is currently Australia's only Zircon producer.
Alkane Resources: ALK DZP H-REE and Heavy Mineral Sands project will be next to come into production with a mine life >100 years.
And Astron Resources ASX: ATR is quite an oddity as its market cap and cash are ~ equal (1H 2011), it is very thinly traded and enjoys strong links with China's chemical industry.
Please note that this is a rapidly changing field and that the data contained will inevitably be out of date some of the time; meaning that you should not rely on it to make investment decisions and consequently you must do your own research.
The data on these pages is intended as a guide only and is provided purely as an indication of what information can be found through official announcements. Data on this website should not be used to make an investment or trading decision. All information should be carefully cross-checked against official sources for accuracy. The publisher (Intaanetto Social Media) will not be held liable for any loss arising from the use of this website. Persons associated with Intaanetto the publishers of these pages hold one or more of the companies listed above.