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Orbite’s unique technology, which extracts
alumina from aluminous clay, is well protected by a robust portfolio of
These patents extend for 20 years and have been filed in Canada, the United States and key jurisdictions around the world.
While it has long been known that alumina (the feedstock used in the production of aluminum) can be refined from aluminous clay deposits, an efficient process has proved elusive. This is precisely the technology Orbite brings to market, but which is still subject to a complete Regulation 43-101 feasibility study on the disclosure of information relating to mineral projects in Canada. The Orbite process of producing metallurgical-grade alumina, protected by patents and patent requests of various countries, involves crushing and then acid leaching the aluminous claystone found at the company’s Grande-Vallée property. Then, by using various temperatures and pH levels, the process selectively isolates the aluminum component and removes iron and other impurities.
In addition to its potential to produce metallurgic alumina, Orbite’s process yields high-purity alumina and also has the potential to extract high-value elements and rare earths. It is important to note that the company has not yet carried out a a complete Regulation 43-101 feasibility study on the disclosure of information relating to mineral projects in Canada.
Orbite fully owns its patented technology for the production of smelter-grade and high-purity alumina. These patents are valid for a 20-year period in several countries, including Canada, Australia, China, Russia, and the United States. Several more patent applications are pending in strategic regions such as Australia, Brasil, China, Hong Kong, the European Union, the United States, India, and Japan.
Orbite also holds fourteen other families of patents pending for technologies which include the production of smelter-grade and high-purity alumina, the production of hematite, the extraction of rare earths from aluminous ores and from other materials, treatment of red mud, treatment of fly ash, extraction of titanium oxide, and extraction of various base and precious metals.
In 2004, researchers at Université Laval conducted laboratory trials to provide indications on the quality of the aluminous clay from Grande-Vallée. The Laval team conducted numerous extraction trials using acid-dissolution methods followed by a process of pyrohydrolysis at high temperature. These trials enabled the extraction of an alumina (Al2O3) that was 95% to 97% pure on average, with results showing extraction rates of 99% and 100%.
In 2006 and 2007, the Centre d'études des procédés chimiques du Québec (CÉPROCQ) conducted research under a development contract aimed at finalizing the Company’s preliminary alumina extraction process in the laboratory. This contract received several subsidies from the Québec government under its technological research assistance program (Programme d'aide à la recherche technologique or PART).
Orbite’s contract with CÉPROCQ led to the production of high-purity alumina in the lab and the deposit of its first patent application, in 2007.
The preliminary extraction process in the lab indicated:
On the strength of these developments, and with partnerships and support from Aluminerie Alouette, the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Quebec’s Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade (MDEIE) and other government and para-government organizations, Orbite implemented a pilot plant in order to pave the way for commercial exploitation of its Grande-Vallée site.
On February 17, 2011, Orbite announced the production of its first tonne of high purity alumina in a single day, ahead of schedule and on budget.