by Greg Klein | August 19, 2014
If metallurgy is crucial to rare earths, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE has positive news as it moves its Ashram deposit towards pre-feasibility. Lab results announced August 19 for the northern Quebec project once again show it can produce a total concentrate of rare earth oxides grading over 40% using standard industry techniques. In doing so the project so far exceeds a baseline level of at least 30% TREO concentrate met by all major rare earth element mines outside southern China.
A test produced concentrate of 41% TREO at 70% recovery, effectively repeating a similar accomplishment in December 2013 that produced a 44% TREO concentrate at 71% recovery.
The results show “one of the highest-grade mineral concentrates in the REE sector and we believe that our current results are the most logical indicators of Ashram’s potential for positive downstream economics,” stated Commerce president Dave Hodge. “We look forward to the results from the next phase of metallurgical testing and to a better definition of our costs to produce final end products.”
Among the advantages, the high grade simplifies downstream processing. The tests suggest only about 3% of the rock extracted from Ashram would require hydro-metallurgical work, cutting the project’s capital and operating costs.
Commerce sees significant potential for further recovery through optimization of factors like temperature, pH and reagent dosage.
The company now plans studies to produce a concentrate of mixed rare earth carbonates free of thorium. The plan would separate cerenium and lanthium as potential products in themselves and increase the value of a rare earth oxide/rare earth carbonate concentrate that Commerce describes as the basic feedstock for REE separation facilities in and out of China.
Achieving that goal could attract joint venture interest from companies that “have excess separation capacity and need a concentrate source.”
Among other objectives, Commerce “expects to evaluate the production of a range of separated oxide products, with a focus on the five critical REOs (CREOs) that the Ashram deposit is enriched in.”
The project’s 2012 preliminary economic assessment showed quantities of the CREOs neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium and yttrium “unusual in carbonatite deposits and especially those of such tonnage and grade.”
That resource used a cutoff of 1.25% total rare earth oxides to estimate a measured and indicated 29.3 million tonnes averaging 1.9% TREO. The inferred category showed 219.8 million tonnes averaging 1.88% TREO. This year’s summer/fall agenda has 1,000 to 1,500 metres of delineation drilling planned to follow up on last winter’s positive results.
The Ashram deposit forms part of the 19,000-hectare Eldor property in the Labrador Trough, about 80 kilometres north of Lac Otelnuk, the “largest iron ore deposit in Canada with the potential of becoming one of the largest in the world,” according to Adriana Resources TSXV:ADI. Lac Otelnuk has feasibility scheduled for completion by year-end. Commerce has also released a PEA for its Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia.
Disclaimer: Commerce Resources Corp is a client of OnPage Media Corp, the publisher of ResourceClips.com. The principals of OnPage Media may hold shares in Commerce Resources.