High-Grade Ilmenite on the Coastline of North-West Greenland

Thule Black Sands, Greenland

Alba’s wholly-owned Thule Black Sands (TBS) Project is a heavy mineral sands project located on the Steensby Land peninsular in north-west Greenland.

The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, GEUS, has estimated that 10 billion tonnes of ilmenite exist in the original rock within the entire Thule region, with a further 7 billion tonnes of ilmenite present in the form of placer ilmenite.

An extensive surface drilling campaign by Alba has led to the declaration of a maiden Mineral Resource for Thule Black Sands.

Thule Black Sands in Brief

What is Ilmenite?

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Thule Black Sands in Brief

Located in north-west Greenland, some 80 km south of the regional settlement of Qaanaaq, the Project benefits from a nearby domestic airport and deep-water harbour, and with sheltered bays on the Project coastline which may prove invaluable for the siting of future infrastructure.

The heavy mineral sands at TBS are found at or near surface on active beaches and raised terraces.

Alba’s 2018 field programme consisted of an extensive programme of drilling, bulk sampling and environmental surveying over a strike length of around 10 km, which led to Alba declaring a maiden Mineral Resource Estimate of 19MT@ 43.6% Total Heavy Minerals (THM), with an in-situ ilmenite grade of 8.9%, making TBS one of the highest-graded ilmenite projects in the world.

The Mineral Resource Estimate equates to 1.7 million tonnes of contained ilmenite, which would mean a mine life of more than 12 years for a 1.5 million tonne per annum operation. Alba is confident that the existing Resource Estimate can be significantly increased by further, deeper drilling using a sonic drill rig, as the current Resource is constrained by the depth of the permafrost in the area.

TBS is located on the same stretch of coastline as the Dundas Project (Mineral Resource Estimate 117Mt at 6.1% ilmenite).

What is Ilmenite?

Ilmenite is a black iron-titanium oxide with a chemical composition of FeTiO3. It is an accessory mineral in igneous rocks, sediments, and sedimentary rocks.

Ilmenite has a high resistance to weathering. When rocks containing ilmenite (such as those at Thule) weather, grains of ilmenite disperse with the sediment. The high specific gravity of these grains causes them to segregate during stream transport and accumulate as heavy mineral sands. Most commercially produced ilmenite is recovered by excavating or dredging these sands, which are then processed to remove the ilmenite grains.

Ilmenite is the primary ore of titanium, a metal used to make a variety of high-performance alloys. However, most of the ilmenite mined worldwide is used to manufacture titanium dioxide, TiO2, which is used as an important whitening pigment in paints, paper, coatings and plastics and as a polishing abrasive.