by Greg Klein | March 13, 2015
While drilling continues at its Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE works towards production of marketable mixed rare earth concentrate at its mini-pilot plant. The company updated the latter project on March 13.
The plant’s goal is to demonstrate the hydrometallurgical flowsheet while producing several kilograms of concentrate. Initial results from the shakeout/development phase include 79% recovery with a 24% mass pull (in which 24% of the feed went to concentrate and the rest to tailings) and also 89% recovery with a 31% mass pull. Those results compare well with previous bench scale testing, Commerce stated. The company added, “A test run with an 89% recovery and a mass pull of 44% was also achieved, further demonstrating the potential for higher recoveries above the baseline.”
The results support the project’s base case flowsheet for producing a total rare earth oxide concentrate over 40% with better than 70% recovery and a 3% mass pull. The higher mass pulls during this phase result from elevated levels of fluorite relative to carbonate in the feed. Therefore the fluorite will continue through the flotation and hydrochloric pre-leach stages, to be removed during wet high intensity magnetic separation.
Once the shakeout/development phase has been completed, the plant will begin bulk concentrate production, with a goal of producing about 1,000 kilograms of flotation concentrate in 10 days.
That will be followed by the HCl pre-leach pilot plant, where the circuit set-up is nearly finished. Here, bench scale development work has simplified the process and cut the required retention time, which could reduce expenses for this part of the flowsheet.
Work has also begun on the next stage, the WHIMS pilot plant which will handle HCl pre-leach residue.
“The overall metallurgical program continues to progress well, with several kilograms of marketable mixed rare earth concentrate (REC and RECl) anticipated to be produced in Q3 2015,” Commerce stated.
The mini-pilot plant update follows a March 11 report from the field, where seven holes of a spring/summer program of 35 to 40 holes have been completed. Assays are pending while Ashram continues to move towards pre-feasibility.
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