Sunday 26th January 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘rare earths’

“It’s time to be ambitious” on critical minerals: Mining Association of Canada

January 24th, 2020

by Greg Klein | January 24, 2020

Canadian-American co-operation on essential elements means opportunity for this country’s wider economy, Pierre Gratton emphasizes. Speaking to the Vancouver Board of Trade, the president/CEO of the Mining Association of Canada commented on the recent Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, as well as the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan.

Two weeks ago Natural Resources Canada announced the cross-border agreement to secure deposits and develop supply chains for minerals essential to the economy, defence, technology and clean energy. The initiative takes place as the U.S. seeks ways to reduce its dependency on sources considered unreliable, unethical or potential economic and military rivals.

It’s time to be ambitious on critical minerals Mining Association of Canada

Pierre Gratton: “We have an opportunity to lay the foundation
for a new era in investment and middle class job creation,
not just in mining but in new, emerging downstream industrial
and manufacturing sectors.” (Photo: Matt Borck,
courtesy Greater Vancouver Board of Trade)

“Critical minerals are more than rare earth elements, and include several minerals and metals already mined in Canada including cobalt, copper, precious metals, nickel and uranium, which are critical to low-carbon electrification and new battery technologies in the automotive, space, defence and high-tech sectors,” said Gratton.

“It’s time to be ambitious. We have an opportunity to lay the foundation for a new era in investment and middle class job creation, not just in mining but in new, emerging downstream industrial and manufacturing sectors.”

Canada ranks among the world’s top five countries for 15 minerals and metals, MAC stated, and remains a global leader in responsible mining practices. Over the past five years MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining program has been adopted by mining associations in seven countries on five continents.

“TSM focuses on enabling mining companies to meet society’s needs for minerals, metals and energy products in the most socially, economically and environmentally responsible way through mandatory commitments to annually report and assure social and environmental performance with strong multi-stakeholder oversight,” the association added.

“Canadian metals come conflict-free, meeting the highest environmental standards and a commitment to transparency unmatched anywhere,” Gratton continued. “We are confident that with these sustainable standards and new government commitments, Canada’s mining industry has the tools and support to provide the responsibly sourced minerals vital to industries around the world.”

Gratton also spoke on the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan, a federal-provincial initiative intended to enhance the industry’s competitiveness, innovation and native participation.

Mining contributes $97 billion to national GDP and 19% of domestic exports, employing 626,000 people directly and indirectly across the country. The industry is proportionally Canada’s largest private sector employer of natives and a major customer of native-owned businesses.

Clint Cox: Formidable challenges face competitors of Chinese rare earths

January 20th, 2020

by Greg Klein | January 20, 2020

Depending which part of the supply chain’s under consideration, this one country produces anywhere from 70% to 95% of these critical minerals. China’s overwhelming rare earths dominance has long been obvious but trade tensions have once again highlighted the problem. Speaking at VRIC 2020 on January 19, Clint Cox outlined the hurdles Westerners face in the struggle to ensure security of supply.

Formidable challenges face competitors of Chinese rare earths

An analyst with The Anchor House who’s specialized in REs since 2006, Cox works with people throughout the supply chain including end users, government agencies, producers and junior explorers.

Last year China’s trade war threat to “weaponize” rare earths brought chills to Western end-users, who are all too familiar with the crisis of 2010. Prior to the Senkaku incident, prices had been trending downwards. Then came the monumental spike, shooting up costs of some elements 30 times.

“Our entire auto industry in North America almost shut down because of this,” Cox says. “A number of other industries almost shut down because of this.”

Naturally juniors found opportunity in crisis. Previously numbering about a dozen, ASX- and TSXV-listed rare earths explorers swelled their numbers beyond 450, a number grossly disproportionate to the availability of qualified geos. “They raised almost $6 billion in that time period,” Cox points out. “They ended up with one producing mine in Lynas Corporation and one mine in Molycorp, the Mountain Pass mine that went bankrupt.”

Mountain Pass in California has since re-opened—as a supplier to China. The world’s greatest source of rare earths deposits has, over the last two years, become a significant importer.

That’s a legacy of environmental neglect that includes an 11-square-kilometre tailings pond with about 100,000 to 150,000 tonnes of exposed radioactive muck, right next to a tributary of the Yellow River.

“China knows this,” he says. “They’re trying to fix it.”

As a result the government has been shutting down mines and looking for external sources. But on a global scale domestic production remains overwhelming.

As does the processing supply chain, led by six state-owned companies that have consolidated their operations. The Big Six benefits from China’s approach to capitalism.

Formidable challenges face competitors of Chinese rare earths

Clint Cox: China’s RE benefits include
geology, expertise, black market production
and totalitarian government support.

“They are all subsidized, every last one of them,” Cox emphasizes. “They’re subsidized at the local level, the provincial level and the national level. This could be free power, this could be interest-free loans, it could be loans that never have to be paid back, and sometimes just flat-out cash payments. They are subsidized at every level.”

Companies in Bayan Obo, China’s most important rare earths-producing region, received about $395 million in government support over just one year. “That’s free money, that’s a subsidy, that’s tough to compete with. That’s way over what the United States is going to spend to try to solve this issue.”

A 20-year expansion plan for rare earths projects in the region finished well ahead of schedule, he notes.

Cox says China began 37 rare earths projects last year, promising some 48,000 tonnes of magnet production. “We only have a couple of hundred tonnes of magnet production in North America. And they spent close to, we gather, ten and twenty billion dollars on making rare earths facilities last year. And we’re excited about tens of millions, or maybe a hundred million dollars spent on some of the projects by the government this year.”

The country’s environmental legacy notwithstanding, China’s current handling of radioactivity presents another advantage. Freeing up the miners, the Chinese nuclear authority now takes responsibility for dealing appropriately with waste. Non-Chinese companies have to fend for themselves. Such challenges have been illustrated by Lynas, which faces opposition to the cracking and leaching plant in Malaysia that processes material from the company’s Mount Weld mine in Western Australia.

Another Chinese advantage: The Big Six launders material from the “unofficial or black market,” coming from unsanctioned, artisanal operations of dubious environmental and workplace standards. Some of it comes from inside China, while additional sources include Myanmar and other parts of southeast Asia, South America and elsewhere.

“So a lot of material flows through this black market. They legitimize it, because once it enters one of their supply chains, one of the Big Six, they can stamp an ‘official’ stamp on it and it becomes official material.”

He adds, “In general, Western countries can’t utilize the black market like China can. That is a huge edge. Some of the black market material can cost one-third of regular material.”

The juniors are definitely the place where the last crop of potential mines came from, and it looks like they might be the next out there. There’s some out there today.—Clint Cox

Supporting all this is a totalitarian regime. “That is tough to compete with.” Despite heightened Washington concern, the U.S. government agencies trying to address the problem remain uncoordinated. U.S. Congress currently has 18 bills concerning rare earths, Cox says.

Still, efforts persist to extract rare earths from sources such as mineral sands and coal. Then there are the juniors.

“The juniors are definitely the place where the last crop of potential mines came from, and it looks like they might be the next out there. There’s some out there today.”

But he has a warning for would-be miners who assume they’d receive a premium for non-Chinese supply. They won’t, he cautions. They’ll have to meet Chinese prices.

Other possibilities might not be predictable. “A dark horse can always come up. You never know what might happen in the rare earths industry. A new application, a new mine, a new processing technology, any of that can transform the industry.”

Read about the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration.

Canada and U.S. formalize action plan for critical minerals deposits and supply chains

January 10th, 2020

by Greg Klein | January 10, 2020

A new commitment binds two neighbouring allies to produce resources essential to the economy, defence, technology and clean energy. Announced January 9, the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration reflects both Canada’s mining potential and American concern about reliance on rival and potentially hostile countries.

Canada and U.S. formalize action plan for critical minerals deposits and supply chains

“Canada is an important supplier of 13 of the 35 minerals that the U.S. has identified as critical to economic and national security,” stated the Natural Resources Canada announcement. “We have the potential to become a reliable source of other critical minerals including rare earth elements, key components in many electronic devices that we use in our daily lives. Canada is currently the largest supplier of potash, indium, aluminum and tellurium to the U.S. and the second-largest supplier of niobium, tungsten and magnesium. Canada also supplies roughly one-quarter of the uranium needs of the U.S. and has been a reliable partner to the U.S. in this commodity for over 75 years.”

Among goals of the action plan are joint initiatives in R&D, supply chain modelling and increased support for industry, NRCan added. Experts from both countries will meet in the coming weeks.

Reflecting Washington’s concern, in 2017 the U.S. Geological Survey released the country’s first thorough study of critical minerals since 1973. Later that year President Donald Trump ordered a federal strategy that initially focused on 23 essential minerals. In 2018 the U.S. officially declared 35 minerals to be critical and at risk of supply disruption.

Since then, discussions have taken place between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with other representatives from both countries.

By finalizing the collaboration agreement, “we are advancing secure access to the critical minerals that are key to our economic growth and security—including uranium and rare earth elements—while bolstering our competitiveness in global markets and creating jobs for Canadians,” said Canadian Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan.

Read more about the U.S. critical minerals strategy.

Read about the U.S. list of 35 critical minerals.

Commerce Resources president Chris Grove congratulates Sophie Costis as she wins an academic award for her work on the company’s rare earths flowsheet

December 30th, 2019

…Read more

The Saskatchewan Growth Plan recognizes mining’s importance to the province’s economic future

December 23rd, 2019

…Read more

Adamas Intelligence forecasts electric vehicle manufacturers’ rare earths demand to increase 350% by 2025

December 19th, 2019

…Read more

Commerce Resources sees further encouragement from Quebec rare earths lab tests

December 17th, 2019

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.

Geoscience BC seeks to put “hidden” copper-gold resources into the public domain

December 6th, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 6, 2019

Additional base and precious metals could be waiting for discovery in a region already hosting some of British Columbia’s largest mines. A new program by Geoscience BC plans a number of measures to search for potential deposits hidden beneath glacial till.

Under scrutiny will be a 50,700-kilometre swath of Quesnel terrane between Centerra Gold’s (TSX:CG) Mount Milligan gold-copper mine to the northwest and, to the southeast, Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) 75%-held Gibraltar copper-molybdenum operation and Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley project, now on care and maintenance. Backed by $2.9 million in funding, the Central Interior Copper-Gold Research project begins with two programs. One will analyze new and existing till samples with satellite imagery to trace samples and geochemical anomalies to their source. Another program will use existing geophysical data to identify, map and model potential copper-gold deposits.

Geoscience BC seeks to put “hidden” copper-gold resources into public domain

Receding glaciers may have helped hide valuable resources.
(Photo: Geoscience BC)

Results are scheduled for 2021, when drilling is anticipated and additional related projects may take place. Data will be made public for the benefit of communities, governments and academia, as well as the mining sector.

Consequently, support for the program came from communities as well as industry. At a December 5 open house North Central Local Government Association president Lara Beckett said, “The communities of the NCLGA benefit from the valuable public data on water, energy and minerals that these initiatives provide. NCLGA members have passed resolutions in support of the work of Geoscience BC and look forward to working together on future opportunities to strengthen communities throughout north-central British Columbia.”

Association for Mineral Exploration president/CEO Kendra Johnston called the work “important to AME members because the data and information that they provide inspire new mineral exploration and attract new investment to British Columbia. We look forward to seeing the results from the first two projects, and to learning more about future phases.”

Other recently announced Geoscience BC programs include Porphyry Vectoring Techniques in Advanced Argillic Altered Rocks, a study of three known porphyry copper-gold deposits in the province’s northwest and north-central regions.

Earlier last month Geoscience BC published a report on mineral deposit types in the Toodoggone area of B.C.’s north-central region. Among several other projects, the non-profit group is also studying methods of extracting rare earth elements from B.C. coal deposits.

Learn more about the Central Interior Copper-Gold Research project.

Commerce Resources congratulates Quebec PhD student for research on company’s rare earths project

December 5th, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 5, 2019

A study related to the Ashram rare earths-fluorspar deposit brought Université du Québec PhD candidate Sophie Costis first prize in an academic competition. Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE congratulated her on winning the $2,000 scholarship for her study on flotation tailings using the flowsheet for the company’s deposit. Costis delivered her presentation entitled Impact du gel-dégel et de la salinité sur le comportement de résidus miniers de terres rares en milieu nordique to l’Association Québécoise des Sciences de la Terre. Her first-place finish in le défi de la recherche en géosciences (Geoscience Research Challenge) was announced at last month’s Quebec Mines + Energy conference in Quebec City.

Commerce Resources congratulates Quebec PhD student for research on company’s rare earths project

A first-prize award recognizes the work of PhD candidate
Sophie Costis on Ashram’s flotation management.
(Photo: Université du Québec)

“The company is thrilled to see Sophie recognized for her hard work on the project over the last few years,” said Commerce president Chris Grove. “We are committed to advancing the Ashram project in an environmentally responsible manner and Sophie’s work will help build this foundation through high-quality data-gathering and analysis in a very important field.”

Backed by a $300,000 grant, Costis works in partnership with le Centre Eau Terre Environnement of l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique of l’Université du Québec. Expected to conclude late next year, her project provides further insight on tailings management in the flotation process plant.

Her findings so far show no serious concerns with Ashram’s flotation tailings management, show the process has no acid-generating potential and also show strong indications that there is no metal-leaching potential, Commerce stated.

In early October, Cynthia Kierscht, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, hosted Shawn Tupper, associate deputy minister of Natural Resources Canada, at the first critical minerals working group meeting in Washington. The group will continue talks in coming months to finalize the joint plan.—Canadian Press

The work complements Ashram’s pre-feasibility studies for Ashram, which coincide with heightened concerns about critical minerals like fluorspar and especially rare earths. This week Canadian Press reported Ottawa is examining the role Canada could play in supplying the United States and other allied countries with minerals considered necessary to the economy, technology and defence.

NRCanada has contracted Roskill Consulting to forecast future demand for critical minerals that Canada could supply, CP added.

Last week Commerce released assays from near-surface intervals at Ashram showing high grades over wide widths. The company also has metallurgical studies underway at a Colorado lab to upgrade the project’s fluorspar potential, increase rare earths extraction and produce samples requested by potential customers.

Fluorspar wasn’t considered in the project’s 2012 resource but will be included in an update anticipated for the coming year, as will two seasons of extensive drilling. A major advantage of Ashram is the carbonatite-hosted deposit’s relatively simple monazite, bastnasite and xenotime mineralogy that’s familiar to conventional rare earths processing.

Fluorspar potential also comes under consideration at another critical minerals project two kilometres away, where Saville Resources TSXV:SRE operates the Niobium Claim Group under a 75% earn-in from Commerce. Following a drill program earlier this year, Saville released promising niobium-tantalum-phosphate results in June.

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

 

Update: An academic paper on Ashram’s flowsheet 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.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

International Montoro Resources finds greater massive sulphide potential at Elliot Lake, Ontario

December 3rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 3, 2019

After adding results from a ZTEM MVI inversion magnetic survey, estimates of the Pecors anomaly double in size.

 

The Serpent River property shows enhanced prospects for nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium, according to a recent compilation and analysis of geophysical data. International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT reported two likely massive sulphide targets over the project’s Pecors anomaly. Now measured to about 5.7 kilometres by 4.2 kilometres by 2.2 kilometres, the anomaly extends to twice the size of a previous estimate.

International Montoro Resources finds greater massive sulphide potential at Elliot Lake, Ontario

A 2015 drill program tested the property’s magnetic anomaly.

The findings come from Mira Geoscience, considered a pioneer of advanced geological and geophysical modelling. The firm analyzed data using its Geoscience Analyst 3D visualization and exploration platform.

Following a 2007 VTEM survey, Montoro sunk two holes totalling 2,322 metres in 2015. One hole intersected a magnetic anomaly’s source, a gabbro body with minor sulphides showing nickel, copper and PGE values near the base. The other hole also intersected the gabbro, finding low-grade gold, platinum, palladium, copper and nickel values, the company stated.

“In essence we are exploring for a massive sulphide nickel-copper-PGE-gold deposit,” said president/CEO Gary Musil.

Last October the company announced a 51% earn-in on the 2,250-hectare Camping Lake property in Ontario’s Red Lake district. In British Columbia’s Cariboo region, Montoro completed rock and soil sampling last July on its 2,138-hectare property bordering Defense Metals’ TSXV:DEFN Wicheeda rare earths project.

Montoro’s portfolio also includes two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA.