Great White Kaolin (GWK) Project is located in South Australia. (Credit: James St. John/
The updated Mineral Resource estimate for the Great White Deposit is 34.6 Mt. (Credit: Petr Kinšt/ Wikipedia)
The Great White Kaolin project includes Great White and Hammerhead Deposits. (Credit: Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart/ Wikipedia)

The Great White Kaolin (GWK) Project in South Australia is the flagship project of ASX-listed emerging industrial minerals producer Andromeda Metals.

The planned mining operation will produce halloysite-kaolin products. The kaolinite product has several uses including in ceramics, paints, agricultural pest control, and paper, as well as in air and water purification, and medicinal applications.

Andromeda Metals’ wholly owned subsidiaries- Andromeda Industrial Minerals and Great Southern Kaolin, own the project.

The development of the GWK project will involve an initial capital expenditure of A$93.8m.

The mine will have a life of 28 years, with four proposed production stages. The mining rate is expected to reach 600,000 tonnes of ore per annum in Stage 3.

Andromeda aims to commence commissioning of the initial plant in late 2023, with the first product sales slated to be held in the first half of 2024.

Great White Project location

The Great White Project is located approximately 15km southwest of the township of Poochera, on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.

Overall, it includes four Exploration Licences (EL 6096, 6202, 6426 and 6588) encompassing an area of 1,614km² along with three mining tenements.

The project includes Great White and Hammerhead Deposits and several exploration targets including Manta, Tiger and Bronze Whaler.

Key project milestones

The project was granted Mining Lease (ML) 6532, Miscellaneous Purposes Licence (MPL) 163 and MPL 164 in December 2021 by the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM), subject to certain conditions.

Andromeda completed the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for GWKP in April 2022. The DFS is based upon developing the single Great White Deposit.

The company filed the Program for Environment and Rehabilitation (PEPR) for GWKP in August 2022. The PEPR approval, which formed the second and final stage of the South Australian Government’s two-stage regulatory process, was received in March 2023.

The PEPR approval will enable processing of up to 300,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of ore, producing up to a nominal 150,000 tpa of halloysite-kaolin products from the Great White Project.

The construction works will begin following payments for an environmental bond and the Native Vegetation Fund.

Great White Project Geology and Reserves

The drilling activity at the site has defined the halloysite kaolin mineralisation of the Great White Deposit.

The Great White kaolin deposit is a sub-horizontal zone of kaolinised granite found with a sharp contact on unweathered granite. On the top of the kaolinised zone, lies loosely consolidated Tertiary and Quaternary sediments.

High quality kaolin-halloysite deposits were found extensively across the Poochera Project area.

The updated total Mineral Resource Deposit (Measured + Indicated + Inferred) of the property is 34.6Mt of kaolinised granite reported at an ISO Brightness cut-off of 75% in the minus 45µm size fraction grading 40.9% Kaolinite and 5.3% Halloysite.

The material classified as Measured and Indicated in the Mineral Resource estimate was converted to a total of 15.1Mt in Proved and Probable Reserves.

The reserve includes 34% Proved Reserve and 66% Probable Reserve.

Mining and Ore Processing

The Great White Project will be mined using conventional load and haul open pit mining techniques using excavators and trucks.

A shallow open cut mine will provide access to the ore with a series of cutbacks to open the initial pit. Small satellite pits to target specific quality clay may be opened to meet product requirements.

The mining activity will start from the southwest area of the deposit and will advance with multiple cutbacks based on the opening up of kaolin working floor.

The stockpiled kaolin ore will be fed into a wet processing plant situated east of the mine.

The wet processing will involve mixing the raw kaolin into a slurry. Additional refining of the concentrate will be carried out before dewatering by using hydrocyclones.

The material will be further reduced in the product of coarser grained minerals and minerals with deleterious elements such as iron.

Subsequently, the higher quality products such as the Great White CRM and Great White PRM will be further refined to meet customer specifications. The products are then dried and packaged for delivery to distributors and end users.

In Stage I, a 300,000tpa processing train will produce Great White KCM90 and Great White HRM. In the second stage, the processing train will be upgraded to produce Great White CRM, and continue the production of Great White HRM.

A second 300,000tpa processing train will be added in Stage III, increasing the total capacity to 600,000 tpa. In the fourth and final stage, the second 300,000 tpa processing train will be upgraded to produce Great White PRM and Great White CRM.

Offtake agreements

In June 2021, Andromeda signed an offtake agreement with Jiangsu Mineral Sources International Trading (MSI) for 70,000tpa +/- 10% of ultra-bright high-purity kaolin product (Great White PRM) for an initial term of five years.

In November 2022, Andromeda signed a legally binding offtake agreement with Netherlands-based IMCD for the sale Great White HRM and SRM additives over an initial term of three years.

Andromeda signed a binding offtake agreement with Japanese manufacturer of high-quality ceramics and Porcelain Plantan Yamada in June 2023 for the supply of 25,000t of high-quality Great White KCM90 during the first three years of production from the project.

The company signed another term sheet with China’s Foshan Gaoming Xing-Yuan Machinery in June 2023 for the supply of 115,000t of Great White CRM over the five-year period, and 5,000t of Great White KCM90 in the first year of production.

Contractors Involved

The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the Great White Kaolin Project was prepared by Andromeda with support from a range of specialist consultants such as H&S Consultants, WSP Global, Proactive Mining Solutions, Primero Group, Ammjohn, and MinEcoTech.

Other companies associated with the preparation of the DFS are Innovative Filtration Solutions, Metso Outotec, Tonkin Consulting, and JBS&G Australia among others.