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Commerce Resources sees further encouragement from Quebec rare earths lab tests

by Greg Klein | December 17, 2019, updated January 7, 2020

Update: An academic paper on the flowsheet for Commerce Resources’ Ashram rare earths and fluorspar deposit will be presented at the Canadian Mineral Processors conference in Ottawa on January 23. Lead author Jean-François Boulanger, an assistant professor at l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue in Rouyn-Noranda and manager of the Ashram metallurgical tests completed at l’Université Laval from 2018 to 2019, will discuss his study entitled Challenges of Scale-Up in Grinding and Flotation of Rare Earth Minerals. The report will also be published in the organization’s periodical CMP Proceedings.

“The Ashram deposit, with its simple rare earth and gangue mineralogy, and resultant well-understood processing techniques, potentially presents a base case scenario for some issues and, therefore, the test data generated by Laval has been used to formulate cautionary guidance for scale-up and large-scale concentrate production, potentially applicable to all rare earth projects regardless of mineralogy,” stated an announcement from Commerce.

Second and third authors of the study are Claude Bazin, professor and project supervisor at Laval, and Darren Smith, project manager at Ashram.

 

Another advance in rare earths processing helps distinguish this Canadian project as the United States and other allies express heightened concern about critical elements. Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE announced a potentially significant advance in flotation tests conducted by l’Université Laval on material from the company’s Ashram rare earths and fluorspar project in northern Quebec. Should further tests support this initial finding, the result could indicate a marked improvement in overall flotation performance.

Commerce Resources sees further encouragement from Quebec rare earths lab tests

Using a combined rougher concentrate from previous lab work, Laval undertook a cleaner-stage test producing a flotation concentrate of 21% rare earth oxides at a stage recovery of 92% and a stage mass pull of 41%, Commerce reported. “The current base case flowsheet incorporates a two-stage rougher only, resulting in a favourable flotation concentrate, typically of 7% to 10% REO at over 80% recovery and less than 30% mass pull.

“Subsequent cleaner stages have generally resulted in a significant drop in recovery. However, the cleaner test result from Laval indicates a potentially significant development in this regard, having resulted in a marked improvement in recovery and grade in the cleaner-stage flotation.”

Improved flotation would affect the stage where most rare earth elements are lost and also determine the amount of hydrochloric acid required, as well as other aspects of the flowsheet.

“In other words, the flotation performance has one of the largest impacts on the OPEX and CAPEX of the overall project flowsheet as it affects everything downstream of it,” the company stated. “Therefore continued improvement in the performance of the flowsheet’s flotation stage is a key interest.”

While Commerce explores funding opportunities to continue work at Laval, the company looks forward to announcing further metallurgical progress from ongoing studies by Hazen Research. The Colorado lab’s current work focuses on upgrading Ashram’s fluorspar to higher-priced acid grade, improving REE recovery and producing concentrate samples requested by potential customers.

Late last month Commerce released assays that included one of Ashram’s best intercepts, 2.38% REO over 64.54 metres, with sub-intervals including 3.02% over 28.35 metres. The near-surface results included impressive fluorspar grades, such as 7.2% calcium fluoride over 221.95 metres, including 11.5% CaF2 over 36.16 metres. Although this critical mineral wasn’t included in the project’s 2012 resource estimate, fluorspar will take its place in a resource update anticipated for the coming year.

In another critical minerals project two kilometres from Ashram, Saville Resources TSXV:SRE operates the Niobium Claim Group under a 75% earn-in from Commerce. Last June Saville released encouraging niobium-tantalum-phosphate drill results and is now analyzing the project’s historic, non-43-101 high-grade fluorspar assays.

Last month Commerce closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $2.51 million. That followed a $413,749 private placement in August.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

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