Canadian Mining Journal

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MINERAL PROCESSING: Two tests for Nechalacho REE recovery promising

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – Avalon Rare Metals of Toronto is pleased with the results of two separate tests of technology that may be used to recover rare earth elements from its Nechalacho project at Thor Lake, 100 km southeast of...



NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – Avalon Rare Metals of Toronto is pleased with the results of two separate tests of technology that may be used to recover rare earth elements from its Nechalacho project at Thor Lake, 100 km southeast of Yellowknife.

The first pilot campaign was conducted at Xstrata Process Support Laboratories of Sudbury, ON, with the objective of confirming improved flotation parameters developed earlier on a bench scale. As predicted, the pilot plant was able to operate successfully at total reagent consumptions of approximately 33% of those used in the pre-feasibility study. The flotation circuit piloted is also far simpler than that in the PFS which will make the final plant much easier to operate and ultimately more efficient. Final test results are still pending, but the expectation is that PFS performance parameters (concentrate grade and recovery) will be less reliant on a gravity circuit for upgrading of the final REE concentrate.

The second pilot plant campaign was conducted at SGS Minerals Services of Lakefield, ON. This work simulated the hydrometallurgical plant and the treatment of flotation concentrate right through the acid baking and leaching processes, removal of impurities by various precipitation operations, neutralisation of acid bake residue plus all tailings materials, and final production of a REE precipitate (or mixed concentrate). This material is the feed for the separation plant where it would undergo separation to isolate the individual REE and final refining into saleable products.

The piloting test work for the REE separation plant and refinery has been awarded to Mintek SA in Johannesburg, South Africa, and up-front bench work has commenced. During this program it is anticipated that a number of refinements to the current PFS separation circuit will be tested and proven.

For current resource estimates from the Nechalacho project, visit AvalonRareMetals.com.