by Greg Klein | May 25, 2015
Among a steady stream of news from the Ashram rare earths deposit, a May 25 report updated Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) infrastructure plans. While moving the Quebec project towards pre-feasibility, the company now envisions separate developments in the province’s north and south. The current model results from trade-off analyses that found cost benefits not identified in Ashram’s preliminary economic assessment.
The north project area would include an open pit mine with ancillary infrastructure, mill and beneficiation plant, accommodations, tailings facility and airstrip. A road would connect the site north to the coast or south to existing infrastructure, depending on results of a current economic study. If necessary a docking/barge facility would be built.
Commerce stated the option “to select either dry stacking or conventional tailings management lends the project enhanced versatility through cost-benefit evaluation and contrasting of the technical merits of each design.”
The south project area would include the hydrometallurgical facility and its tailings facility. Originally considered for the mine site or north coast, a southern location would reduce costs and allow year-round operation, according to more recent studies.
Of 14 locations considered in the St. Lawrence Seaway and Maritime regions, four have been shortlisted. “Community consultation and further evaluation, both from technical and economic as well as environmental and social standpoints, are underway,” Commerce stated.
Scheduled for completion by summer’s end are collection of geochemical, geotechnical, geomechanical, hydrogeological and hydrological data. Final engineering to the pre-feas level would be “completed shortly thereafter.”
Last week the company announced completion of Ashram’s winter/spring field program, which included 31 holes and 4,146 metres of drilling, downhole surveying, geomechanical sampling and hydrogeological testing.
Metallurgical progress also continues. In late April Commerce reported Phase I success at the project’s flotation mini-pilot plant in Colorado, which achieved both its goals by producing several kilograms of mixed rare earths concentrate and demonstrating flotation performance on a continuous basis.
The previous month Commerce filed an updated 43-101 technical report for its Blue River tantalum-niobium project in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011.
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