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Gibellini Vanadium Project, Nevada

A core drill rig operating at the Gibellini mine. Image courtesy of American Vanadium.

Gibellini Vanadium Project is located in the Eureka Country of Nevada, US. The project is 100% owned and operated by American Vanadium Corporation (AVC). It is spread over an area of 6,600 acres and will produce vanadium pentoxide. Life of the mine is estimated at nine years.

AVC announced positive results from the feasibility study of the project in September 2011. The mine is scheduled to commence production in 2013 and will be the main vanadium producer in the US.
The annual production is expected to be 11.4 million pounds of vanadium pentoxide. The project will enable American Vanadium to meet 5% of the global demand for vanadium.

Geology and reserves
The deposit is contained in an allocthonous fault wedge made of siliceous mudstone, siltstone and chert rocks of the Devonian Age Woodruff formation. They occur in the form of thin bedded shales which are very fragile, distorted and fractured. The deposit is very accessible resulting in a 0.2-to-1 strip ratio.
Proven and probable reserves are estimated at 19mt grading at 0.302% of vanadium. Inferred resources are estimated at 14mt grading at 0.172% of vanadium. Measured and indicated resources are estimated at 23mt grading at 0.285% of vanadium.

Gibellini mineralisation
The mine's geological formation comprises three layers including an oxidised zone, transition zone (mix of oxidised and unoxidised zone) and unoxidised zone. The top layer stretching 100ft to 120ft thick has been oxidised creating orange, pink and purple vanadium oxide minerals.

Vanadium mineralisation is mainly concentrated in a black shale transition zone which is 175ft to 300ft-thick overlaid by gray mudstone. Oxidisation has rendered hues of yellow and orange to the shale up to a depth of 100ft.

The transition zone contains the highest grades of vanadium. The unoxidised zone contains lower grade vanadium compared to that found in the oxidised and transition zones.

The mine will be developed as an open pit heap leach operation. AVC is currently exploring the Gibellini Northeast, Louie Hill, Middle Earth, Big Sky, Del Rio and Hot Creek prospects at the mine.

A drilling programme carried out in 2007-2008 included drilling of 23 holes to a depth of 7,540ft.
The primary resource at Gibellini Hill will be explored to increase the resource estimates. The Louie Hill prospect is being considered as a feasible option for open pit operation. Around 60 wells have been previously drilled at the prospect.

Drill testing will be carried out at the Del Rio prospect which contains 1,200ft-wide vanadium mineralisation at a depth of 1,800ft.

Hot creek prospect is also included in the exploration programme. Drill targets will be identified and defined, and detailed geological mapping will be carried out.
Vanadium mining and processing


Reverse circulation rig in action at the Gibellini vanadium mine. Image courtesy of American Vanadium.

The mine will process 2mt of heap leach material annually. Heap leaching is a common method used for processing metals such as copper but the Gibellini project will be the first to use it to process vanadium. The ore will first undergo primary and secondary crushing to reduce the size to less than 2in. The crushed ore will be agglomerated and cured with acid.

The cured ore will be moved to the curing pad through a radial stacker. The agglomerates will be loaded from the curing pad onto a grasshopper conveyor through a front end loader and sent to the leach pad. The agglomerates will rest for one week before undergoing leaching.

After resting the material is treated with a leap solution for 90 days. The pregnant leap solution is then sent to a strip circuit. Vanadium is recovered in the strip circuit by treating with ammonia followed by calcination. The final vanadium pentoxide recovered is crushed and drummed to form purple flakes.

Wildlife or plants are not expected to be affected since the project is remotely located. An environment assessment programme may hence be required instead of a full environmental impact study (EIS). The Bureau of Land Management, however, still needs to make a final decision regarding the EIS.

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