The new titanium metal technology (the Chinuka process) was licensed in September 2010 and since then the research, set out in a report by Professor Derek Fray at the University of Cambridge in the UK, has been examining the refining and electrolytic deposition of pure titanium metal from Ultra- T fine rutile concentrate feedstock sourced from the company's Cerro Blanco project in Chile.

Preliminary results from this test work indicate that the residual oxygen content in titanium sponge metal deposited from molten salts using the Chinuka process is approximately 1 wt%. Based on these results, an examination of the potential use of final acid leaching to lower oxygen content further to approximately 0.5 wt% (a commercial weight per cent specification for sheet rolled titanium metal) was initiated. 

The research is also examining the possible production of titanium metal and looking at the possible utilization of lower grade rutile and ilmenite concentrates as the process feedstock. Ilmenite is the most common form of titanium concentrate, but many ilmenites have impurities which preclude their use in paint and pigment applications. 

"Management is very pleased with what Professor Fray and his Cambridge colleagues have achieved at a lab scale in the first two quarters of Company sponsored research on the Chinuka Process.  Remaining at a lab scale while expanding the research focus is a cost-effective way of examining the possibility of lowering the titanium sponge metal oxygen weight per cent to meet a commercial specification, producing a higher value metal powder and operating with lower value feedstock before scaling up to a pilot plant stage,” said Brian Flower, White Mountain's executive chairman.