Firebird Metals

China-Based Battery Grade Manganese Sulphate and LMFP Business Update

Advanced Manganese developer Firebird Metals Limited (ASX: FRB, “Firebird” or “the Company”) is pleased to provide a progress update on its China-based Manganese Sulphate and Lithium Manganese Iron Phosphate (LMFP) battery strategy.


HIGHLIGHTS

Following excellent results from the China-Based Battery Grade Manganese Sulphate Scoping Study, which demonstrated the potential of a very competitive low-cost CAPEX and OPEX operation, Firebird continues to efficiently progress key activities in China, which include the following:

  • Establishment and registration of the Company’s Chinese subsidiary, which has been named Hunan Firebird Battery Technology Co Ltd
    • Appointment of highly regarded and leading Manganese sulphate specialist Mr Zhou Qiyun as Chief Operating Officer (COO)
    • Key research & development, operational & administration personnel appointed, with the team to be led by Mr Zhou
  • Advanced and commercialised crystallisation technology secured, providing a key operation and cost advantage for Firebird
    • Agreement to use patented technology entered into with Hunan Yuxiong Technology Co., LTD company, which is controlled by Mr Zhou
    • 5th generation technology is proven, in operation at other China-based plants and enables significant energy cost reductions for MnSO4 production
  • Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) commenced, with excellent progress being made
    • Experienced PFS & engineering design experts appointed
    • Preliminary engineering design & PFS expected to be completed in late Q1 2024
  • Research & Development (R&D) lab, including pilot plant design complete
    • Procurement of all major equipment underway and Plant scheduled to be in operation in early Q1 2024
  • Ongoing discussions to finalise potential plant site nearing completion

The recently completed in-house China-based Battery Grade Manganese Sulphate Scoping Study validated Firebird’s focus to produce battery grade manganese sulphate in China, with impressive results highlighted by a strong projected NPV of approximately US$331M, low-cost total capital expenditure of approximately US$82.3M, an internal rate of return of 47% and a payback period of less than two years. (See ASX announcement: Excellent Results from China- Based MNSO4 Scoping Study, 21November 2023).

Since announcing the next phase of strategic growth in early September 2023, Firebird has moved quickly to assemble its in-country team and commence key workstreams, as the Company continues to work towards becoming a near-term producer of battery-grade manganese sulphate in China.

Technical & Operational Team

Firebird has made its first major team appointment for its Chinese subsidiary, Hunan Firebird Battery Technology Co Ltd, with Mr Zhou Qiyun agreeing to join as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Based in China, Mr Zhou is a highly regarded and leading MnSO4 expert, who has spent majority of his career across the development, optimisation and commercialisation of technologies for MnSO4 processing (including patents), with a key focus on energy saving optimisation processes through evaporation and crystallisation stages.

Mr Zhou was previously a part-owner of a battery grade MnSO4 plant and has consulted to a large number of existing MnSO4 plants in China, principally advising on technical processing issues. Mr Zhou also consults to the Central South University as an expert in manganese sulphate processing.

As part of Mr Zhou joining Hunan Firebird Battery Technology Co Ltd, he has introduced several other technical experts, who also bring Mn3O4 process technology experience, to consult to and work for Hunan Firebird Battery Technology Co Ltd. The establishment of a leading, high-purity manganese team, places Firebird in a strong position to execute on a busy 12-month work program in China and ensure the level of experience required is in place to grow into a high-purity manganese producer.

The key near-term objectives for Mr Zhou and his team will be:

  • Manage the setup of Firebird’s R&D centre
  • Assisting in the PFS process
  • Provide the technical process flow sheet for MnSO4 & Mn3O4 and engineering design
  • Ongoing development of new products for manganese rich PCAM materials, with a key focus on LMFP commercialisation
  • Construction of the plant, sourcing equipment and operational production management once the plant is operational

Advanced Crystallisation Technology Secured for China Operation

Product quality and cost efficiency remain key focus areas for Firebird in developing a competitive, long-term high-purity manganese operation. The Company announced attractive low CAPEX numbers in the recent China-based Battery Grade Manganese Sulphate Scoping Study, however, remain focused on developing further cost advantages to operate further down the cost curve.

To support the development of a low-cost, high-margin operation, Firebird has secured Mr Zhou’s energy saving technology patent. Mr Zhou has sold & installed this technology, which is currently in it’s 5th generation, across all generations there are approximately 20 plants using the technology.

The patented 5th generation has being used in one operation in China, with the technology equipment currently being fabricated to be installed in another two MnSO4 factories.

The success of this technology derives from the utilisation of residual heat from the initial crystallisation process, to recycle and preheat solution feeding into crystallisation process, which ultimately leads to energy consumption of around 1/10th of existing standard crystallisation plants.

Mr Zhou also agreed that Firebird can use other patents & inventions which he is the owner/inventor or part owner/inventor. In securing Mr Zhou’s leading patented technology, Firebird has entered into a head of agreement with Mr Zhou on the terms set out in Appendix A.


Click here for the full ASX Release

This article includes content from Firebird Metals Limited, licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here.

FRB:AU
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