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Welcome to Issue No. 9 of the Calix Newsletter

My first since taking on the role of CEO of Calix in late March 2013.

The first few weeks in the job have been somewhat challenging, as the Bacchus Marsh CFC15000 Calciner project was found to have run over time and budget. This placed the company in a weak financial position, for which a financing arrangement has now been secured. The project is now delivering against a revised plan and budget. I am very pleased to report that commissioning has now commenced, with the first calcined material produced on 31st May.


The team at Bacchus Marsh have done an outstanding job under difficult circumstances – and in the end Calix has designed, built and and commissioned a first-of-a-kind technology in just over 12 months. This is an exceptional achievement; especially considering neither Calix nor its contractors suffered a single lost time injury during construction. Looking ahead, Calix must now do the basics right. We must operate our new plant safely, efficiently, and profitably.


This will mean establishing a market presence for our calcined powders, and also developing higher value products that incorporate our unique calcined powder properties. We need to leverage our unique technology into new projects, with market-ready partners. And we must continue to explore and develop new areas of applications for our core calcining and ENDEX technologies.


This Newsletter outlines some of our recent achievements and some of the important steps we are taking into end-product markets to secure our business. Calix is poised for a great future, supported by two fundamentals – the quality of its people and the potential of the technology. I look forward to working with the Board and staff to deliver on Calix’s significant potential.


Phil Hodgson, CEO



Bacchus Marsh Commences commissioning.

The last few months have seen a very high level of activity at Calix’s Bacchus Marsh CFC15000 Calciner. In February, the 13 tonne, 31 meter tall inner tube for the CFC reactor was lifted above the top of the 42 meter tall tower to be inserted into the refractory lined furnace shell. This lift was successfully completed on the same morning that this critical component arrived on site, and achieved another milestone in the construction of the CFC15000 Calciner.


March and April saw a hive of activity at site, completing the last 5% of the construction to get the plant ready for commissioning. During this period, day to day efficiency and safety on site were of paramount importance given the number of people working. It is pleasing to report that work stayed on schedule and our record of no lost time injuries was maintained. This commissioning of systems such as the grinder and powder transport system were completed.


On the 6th of May the furnace burners were lit and the refractory dry out started. A nervous 10 days followed, during which time the refractory lining of the furnace was gradually heated to 850˚C to dry and cure. The furnace was then shut down for a successful inspection during May.


The material handling system was also tested by transporting powder through the plant from feed to product discharge. After some initial challenges with a particularly recalcitrant valve, this step was also successfully completed on 27th May and hot commissioning began.


Throughout the construction and commissioning activities, the very important process of integrating instruments and applying control functionality to the plant continued. The first 250kgs of ‘on-spec’ product were successfully calcined on the 31st of May. All in all, it was a fantastic effort by the team.



The upgrade of Calix’s plant at Bacchus Marsh, including the construction of the commercial scale CFC15000 Calciner, has seen a steady increase not only in the number of contractors at site, but also in the complexity of installations and the potential interactions between different service providers. This has necessitated a great level of communication between contractors and Calix management to ensure coordination between the different contractor work groups and associated activities.


This was no better illustrated than during several of the larger crane lifts performed on the tower which involved all contractors on the tower and in surrounding work areas. Throughout the construction period Calix and its contractors have had no site incident resulting in harm to personnel. This is an outstanding safety and health performance achievement which could only have been realised with the full commitment to safety and health from both Calix personnel and our contractor base.



Magnesium is often overlooked as an essential macronutrient of the modern agricultural industry. It plays a primary role as the central atom in the chlorophyll molecular structure, which explains why leaves become chlorotic (or yellowing) when deficient in magnesium. In Australia, soils are naturally low in magnesium or have been slowly depleted over time. Many Australian vineyards are located in areas of naturally low magnesium or high leaching (loss of soil nutrients).


Magnesium deficiency in the grape growing crops can also be caused by incorrect ratios of potassium, calcium and magnesium. As magnesium is taken up by the vines in its “cationic” form Mg2+, it can end up competing with other similar cationic nutrients like potassium (P+) and calcium (Ca2+). Acidic (“low pH”) soil is another major cause of magnesium deficiency, as magnesium is less accessible to grape vine roots at lower pH. Symptoms generally show up in late summer and autumn, when the tissue between the primary veins on basal leaves will start to turn yellow, while the tissue near the veins remains green.


A great way to solve magnesium deficiency in crops is to useMagnesite (MgCO3 ), Semidolime™ or ACTI-Mag™ (MgO).

  • Magnesite is a slow release magnesium source which uses the carbonate “anion” (CO32- ) to adjust the pH upwards. The carbonate neutralises the acidic soil by the following reaction: 

CO32-+ 2H+ -> H2O (liquid) + CO2 (gas)

  • Semidolime™ is a combination of MgO and CaCO3 allowing for quicker release of magnesium and more rapid neutralisation of acidic soils. Semidolime also contains calcium which helps keep the Ca and Mg in ratio.


  • ACTI-Mag™ is a high grade MgO and one of the richest sources of magnesium available on the market. MgO is the quickest way to safely neutralise acidic soils.


Calix will manufacture all three products using minerals from its Myrtle Springs Mine and other sources, for grinding and/ or processing in the CFC15000 calciner at Bacchus Marsh. For more information, please contact Michael Romer (02) 8199 7400.




Odour and corrosion in waste water treatment systems is a wide-spread problem. Corrosion in sewage treatment applications alone is estimated to cost around $110 million per year in Australia. Typically, waste water treatment involves some sort of microbial digestion of waste compounds. However, if the oxygen in a system falls too low, “anaerobic” bacteria thrive and produce Hydrogen Sulphide gas (rotten egg gas).


Hydrogen Sulphide is the major cause of odour and corrosion in wastewater systems. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to break the Hydrogen Sulphide generation cycle is to increase the “alkalinity” or pH of the system. Traditionally, an alkali such as caustic soda or lime is added to the wastewater stream in order to provide the alkalinity and maintain the pH within the optimum range. However, caustic and lime treatments are very easily overdosed.


This results in the production of localised hot spots that kill “good” microbes and can, in severe cases, deactivate the process. Magnesium Hydroxide has also found great use in treating industrial metal-laden, acidic wastewater, as compared with caustic soda or lime, metals are removed at lower pH, and less sludge is produced. Calix’s high surface area Magnesium Oxide (ACTI-Mag™) and Magnesium Hydroxide (ACTI-Mag™) are safe and cost effective wastewater treatment alternatives for the Australian water treatment industry.


ACTI-Mag™ can be supplied as a stabilised slurry or can easily be hydrated on site using techniques and equipment from our reactive ACTI-Mag™. For more information, please contact John Knights (02) 8199 7400.

R & D Update : Building Products

Extruded MgO Based Building Products – Is it possible?

The highly reactive MgO powder produced in Calix's CFC Reactor has long thought to be the basis of a viable MgO binder for building product development. First indications of this potential were seen with the very first material product from the batch reactor at Jacobs Well in Queensland back in 2007.


Since that time both the technology for production of reactive MgO and the knowledge on how to create a binder from this powder has been developed within Calix. More than 400 formulation trials later, Calix can now consistently create test blocks from its unique powder and filters with compressive strengths above 30Mpa.


The proprietary binder composition, NOVA-Mag™, has green strengths in excess of 10 MPa within 2 hours of production, and has the benefit of requiring no magnesium sulphate or chloride salts used in competitors’ products. Calix has recently undertaken successful pilot extrusion studies of NOVA-Mag™.


With these results, the future for a commercially extruded product looks bright. Our work continues with the aim of moving to a commercial scale extrusion trial at our Bacchus Marsh facility in the near future.

For more information, please contact Mark Sceats (02) 8199 7400





Michael joined Calix in July 2012 as a business development manager, focussing on customers in the fertiliser, waste treatment, animal feed supplement and CO2 markets. Michael graduated in Applied Science, majoring in Industrial Chemistry, from the University of Technology Sydney.


Michael started his career working at R&D Chemicals in formulating paints, detergents, aluminium cleaners, resins, coatings and plant additives. In 1993, he started his own company in manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing and distributing speciality high-tech agricultural equipment and worked with commercial farms in the Australian, Asian and the Pacific regions. In 2005, he became a consultant in the distribution of agricultural products, filler aids and fillers for the paint and coating industry.


He has supplied, commissioned and installed equipment into the winery, breweries, council water treatment, council sewage treatment, sugar mills, spring water, mining, council commercial swimming pools, fruit juices, soft drinks, fillers, paint and coating industries. Michael has been actively involved in the development of products including a perlite product (Aquaperl) into the swimming pool market and a natural insecticide. At Calix, he led the development of our Mg(OH)2 slurry with a low viscosity and a high solids content for the wastewater industry.


In recent years, Michael has focused on projects using anaerobic and aerobic systems to improve the water quality of the outflow system. He has become involved in biogas production systems and has also worked on improving gas scrubber performance on gas streams.


Michael has two beautiful children: Matthew and Caitlin. Outside of work he spends time doing outdoor activities like sailing, skiing, climbing, bush walking and socialising with his friends. He is also the president of his local Turramurra School OOSH and Vice President of the P&C.