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Commerce Resources reports fluorspar upgrade progress from the Ashram rare earths deposit

by Greg Klein | January 28, 2020

Adding further value to one of the world’s largest advanced-stage rare earths deposits, Phase I metallurgical studies have brought optimistic results for another critical mineral. In addition to flotation tests conducted by l’Université Laval, the Hazen Research lab in Colorado has been working towards upgrading fluorspar concentrate from Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram deposit in northern Quebec. Now the lab has completed tests that also studied an alternative or complimentary approach at the front end of the project’s current flowsheet.

Commerce Resources reports fluorspar upgrade progress from the Ashram rare earths deposit

Commerce Resources’ northern Quebec project offers
the Western world potential for two critical minerals.

This approach “includes a coarser-grind followed by a fluorspar pre-float as an initial beneficiation step to isolate a sizable portion of the fluorspar prior to material entering the primary REE recovery flowsheet,” Commerce stated.

The results show most of the pre-float concentrate’s fluorspar “is present as liberated grains, suggesting favourable conditions for conventional physical separation methods to be carried out in Phase II,” the company added. Those tests will focus on removing impurities to reach acid-grade specifications required by industry.

At 97% or more calcium fluoride, higher-priced acid-grade fluorspar is converted to hydrofluoric acid for uses in the chemical industry and aluminum production. Considerable demand potential also comes from increasing use of refrigerants and from the growing lithium-ion battery market, according to Roskill. Met spar, grading below 97%, has uses in steel and cement production.

Apart from upgrading fluorspar, the Colorado lab has worked on improving REE recovery and producing concentrate samples requested by potential customers.

High-grade, near-surface drill results released by Commerce in November further highlight Ashram’s dual potential for rare earths and fluorspar. A few examples:

  • 1.71% rare earth oxides and 7.2% calcium fluoride over 221.95 metres, starting at 2.69 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 2.18% REO and 11.5% CaF2 over 36.6 metres)

  • 1.68% REO and 8.4% CaF2 over 101.86 metres, starting at 1.59 metres
  • (including 2% REO and 9.6% CaF2 over 13.28 metres)

True widths were unavailable.

Amid heightened concern about critical minerals, rare earths have gained considerable attention for their importance to the economy, clean energy and defence, among other applications. Less prominent, however, has been fluorspar, which also comes under the U.S. list of 35 critical minerals. China controls well over 50% of production but has become a net importer due to increasing domestic demand and mine shutdowns caused by environmental concerns, according to Roskill.

Earlier this month Canada and the U.S. signed a Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals to develop deposits and supply chains.

In November Commerce closed a private placement totalling $2.51 million.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Watch Roskill analyst Adam Coggins discussing fluorspar demand and prices.

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