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Newsletter December 2015

"Happy New Year"
Premier has had a successful quarter. We have received a very positive attitude about our project and we’re very keen on ensuring the approval of 350 ha for demonstration plant over the next few months.
Craig Figtree
Ministry officials at all levels have ensured, with subject to Environmental Clearance from Department of Environment (DoE) under Ministry of Environment & Forest that this may go ahead.

Premier had several discussions with the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) with an aim to transfer technology and mobilize equipment under the MoU with BAEC to upgrade BSMEC (Beach Sand Minerals Exploitation Centre) plant at Cox’s Bazar.

We met the newly appointed director of the Bureau of Mineral Development and presented the benefit of this project to the country and the local community.

This December we visited Teknaf under Cox’s Bazar district with Chinese delegates interested in our project. The team also visited BSMEC pilot plant located at Kalatali, Cox’s Bazar. We are concerned about the natural erosion occurring on the beach at Teknaf, particularly south of Teknaf in the Badamorkan area, furthermore we have sighted depletion of important back dune areas being excavated for road and building construction purposes. Premier believes, had it started operations in this area earlier and had the opportunity to work closely under DoE supervision back in 2009 these issues would be mitigated.

We now see environmental protection of the area of Teknaf being of critical importance, reclamation and restoration of the back dune areas being critical to the areas’ survival. The introduction of mineral sand processing can help fund some of this important activity.

Obituary:
Energy and Mineral resources division secretary Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique passed away of cardiac attack at Square hospital in the capital at 4:55 am on November 30 at the age of 58. Premier expresses deep shock at the loss of such an experienced and talented bureaucrat. We pray for the eternal peace of the departed soul and express the sympathy to the bereaved family members.

Market Review of Mineral Sands

The price of Zircon and Rutile has declined slightly during 2015 on the back of slow demand. The general feeling in the market is that prices may have reached the bottom due to producer margins already being very tight at the current price levels and low stock levels.

Prices for mineral sand products have remained stable despite huge decreases in other commodities such as Oil, Coal and Iron ore.
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Company News

On 29 August 2015, a MOU has was signed between the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) at Melbourne, the head office of CSIRO. Under the MOU, a joint research team of these two organizations will collect data and estimate reserves of the minerals sands at Brahmaputra River, and is expected to be funded by the Government of Bangladesh, further meetings about this are expected February 2016.

MZI Resources says commissioning of the mineral separation plant for its Keysbrook mineral sands project south of Perth has been completed and it had begun loading its first shipment of zircon concentrate. The sales milestone was achieved one month ahead of schedule, with the leucoxene sales targeted for February 2016. Keysbrook is designed to produce about 96,000 dry tonnes of leucoxene products and zircon concentrate annually.

Iluka Resources has cut its expectations for capital expenditure and sales as it says market conditions in the mineral sands sector remained subdued. The miner has lowered its capex forecast by 35 per cent to $75 million for the calendar year, while also expecting its sales to take a hit.

Information Article

Characteristics and applications of Valuable heavy minerals (VHM) in Bangladesh
Zircon Sand
The principal valuable heavy minerals for source of commercial interest are Rutile, Zircon, Garnet, Ilmenite and Magnetite. In particular Bangladesh could be a good source of Zircon, Rutile and Garnet, as well as a source of titano-magnetite of the steel industry. The characteristics and application of Zircon has been delineated in this newsletter. Others Valuable heavy minerals will be discussed in the following newsletter.

Zircon (ZrSiO4)
Zircon is one of the most important minerals discovered in the beach sand heavy minerals in Bangladesh. Zircon is considered a valuable industrial raw material in various industries.
Bangladesh Zircon has a density of 4.75-4.9 g/cc. From the sieve analysis more than 76% of the Bangladesh Zircon are retained on US sieve no 140 (opening 0.105 mm)

The chemical analysis by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy of Zircon concentrate collected from BSMEC, Cox’s Bazar shows the combined percentage of (ZrO2+ HfO2) in the Bangladesh Zircon is 65.23% whereas the percentage of (ZrO2+ HfO2) in Australia is 66%. Silica content is 32%.

Bangladesh Zircon is considered reasonable quality (Commercial grade 64-67%) except it contains 1.42% rutile (Commercial grade for rutile content is 0.5%). But it is possible to reduce rutile content through advanced rutile separation technique.

The mineralogical study of Bangladesh Zircon shows that about half of the grains are prismatic and euhedral while the rest is more or less rounded. Weathering causes the rounding of the grain. Zircon deposits found in east Australia is characterized by sub-angular to rounded shape.

The high content of radioactive impurities like Th (721ppm) and U (791 ppm) in Bangladesh Zircon is now of high concern as the commercial Zircon concentrates available in the world market have a combined U+Th content of less than 500 ppm. Some of the radioactive element exist as widely dispersed impurities within the Zircon grain and also believed to exist within the Zircon lattice. Removal of these radioactive impurities traditionally required chemical treatment however recently the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have been working on a process to rid the Zircon of this contamination.

Uses
Zircon is extensively used in refractory products and in the manufacture of glass. Zircon in the form of its flour (2 micron size) is widely used in ceramic industries as an opacifier in glazes for chemical and electrical porcelains, sanitary wares, semi-vitreous dinnerware’s and wall tiles. It is also used a colour stabilizer in ceramic products. Zirconium compound is used in tanning white leather, in dental cement and in high power light house lamp. Zirconium in the form of zirconium alloy is used as a cladding for fuel rods in nuclear power plants. Zircon serves as the only source of hafnium which is used in nuclear industries.

In Bangladesh there is immense potential of usage of zircon in refractory production. Chittagong steel mill is a potential consumer of zircon using as furnace and ladle lining.

Zircon sands are commonly used in steel foundries because moulding materials for steel casting require a higher refractoriness. A number of steel foundries have been set up in Bangladesh. Zircon sand is used in these steel foundries.

Bangladesh Zircon was ground into zircon flour and its suitability as an opacifier in ceramic glaze was investigated in a local sanitary ware (Bangladesh Insulator and Sanitary ware factory, BISF) and tableware factories.

Refractory bricks were made from Bangladesh Zircon in a local brick factory named Mirpur Ceramic Works Ltd.

Many other ceramic industries in Bangladesh use micronized zircon for enhancing glaze of ceramic products. These requirements are met through import.

Of other potential users of zircon the following industries were identified:
  1. Gulfa habib, Chittagong in foundries for production of spares for jute mills
  2. Ispahani Marshall, Chittagong in general foundry works
  3. Bangladesh machine tools factory Dhaka in foundries for production of various components and spares.
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Image of Zircon rich sand between the beach and marine drive at Teknaf. This is close to the high tide area were back-dune restoration and rehabilitation is critical for prevention of sea erosion.

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“This industry has an historic opportunity to be the solution to global problems,”
“It covers labor, the environment, economic development;
it’s all-encompassing”
Premier Minerals Limited
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