Orbite Produces First Tonne of High Purity Alumina at Plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec
Montreal, Quebec. January 22, 2013 – Orbite Aluminae Inc. (TSX:ORT)(OTCQX:EORBF) ("Orbite" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it successfully produced its first tonne of high-purity alumina (HPA) during the last week of December 2012 and early January 2013 as part of the initial commissioning and testing activities at its commercial-scale HPA production plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec. HPA samples were independently tested by EAG confirming that an initial purity of greater than 4N (4N+) was achieved during this initial production period. Further commissioning activities -- and optimization of the purity towards 5N and greater -- are expected to take up to two months to complete and are proceeding according to schedule.
“This is a great moment for Orbite. The initial production demonstrates the Company’s ability to design, build, and operate a commercial alumina facility on-time and on-spec using its unique patented technology,” said Richard Boudreault, President and CEO of Orbite Aluminae. “Given that the ground breaking for the HPA plant was barely more than six months ago, our ability to make so much progress in this very short timeframe only highlights the simplicity and robustness of our innovative process.”
“We are also very pleased to have commissioned the acid regeneration circuit, achieving acid recovery rates during HPA calcination of over 99.99 percent, as independently measured by CMI-UVK, which is superior to the 99.75% that was expected and is equivalent to 25x less acid loss than anticipated,” said Denis Primeau, Eng., Chief Engineer of Orbite Aluminae. “All of which further demonstrates the viability of using our proprietary process to produce smelter-grade alumina (SGA) at our proposed SGA plant.”
Boudreault added that he wanted to thank all of Orbite’s employees and suppliers for their hard work during the past six months to build and commence production at the Cap Chat facility, and in particular those who worked through the holidays to reach this important milestone toward becoming a leading HPA provider.
The start of commissioning was announced on December 18, 2012. Operational results achieved at the Cap-Chat HPA plant are in line with or exceed initial expectations based on operation of the pilot plant and the HPA mini-pilot at Orbite’s laboratory in Laval, Quebec. Non-commercial production of HPA will continue throughout commissioning at a rate of less than one tonne per day. The first HPA samples for customers in Europe, America and Asia will be shipped as the material becomes available throughout the first quarter of 2013.
Following the installation of additional calcination equipment, the production capacity is expected to gradually increase to three tonnes per day by mid-2013 and to five tonnes per day by the end of 2013. A portion of the equipment in the plant has already been provisioned to a capacity of five tonnes per day. This ramp-up schedule could potentially be modified if initial customer demand exceeds expectations.
The process used by Orbite to produce HPA is unique and patented. It differs significantly from the rest of the HPA industry and is expected to produce higher purities at lower production costs than existing producers.
Orbite anticipates that it will start commercial production at the beginning of the second quarter of 2013, with plans to offer HPA powder and HPA granules ranging from 4N to an eventual 6N (99.9999%) purity. Orbite also anticipates the production of gallium and scandium once a recovery circuit is completed in mid-2013.
The independent laboratory Evans Analytical Group® (EAG) of Liverpool, NY, an industry leader in Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS), independently analyzed the HPA samples in their laboratory using GDMS. EAG regularly uses GDMS to help customers across a range of industries with R&D, quality control, and process monitoring and development.
CMI-UVK is an international industrial technology company with its global headquarters in Belgium with extensive expertise in chemical processes and acid regeneration plants.
HPA Market Drivers
HPA is used principally for the production of industrial sapphires, which are used as substrates in the LED light industry as well as in displays for hand-held devices and televisions. These markets are expected to expand substantially over the next few years, and in particular the LED lighting industry due to numerous regulations phasing out the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in a variety of countries including Canada, the European Union, Australia, and China.
Commissioning and initial operation of the HPA plant is under the supervision of Denis Primeau, Eng., Orbite’s Chief Engineer, who is a Qualified Person (QP) as defined by National Instrument 43-101, and has reviewed and approved the technical content of this news release.