Canadian Mining Journal


R & D: Search Minerals Inc. Provides Update on Pilot Plant Program

Vancouver: Search Minerals Inc. is pleased to provide an update on the pilot plant program which is being conducted by SGS Canada Inc.. The Pilot Plant is being funded by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador for up to $1.25M of the $1.9M program cost. The Pilot Plant is using the patent-pending proprietary technology breakthrough developed by the Company, which has eliminated grinding, flotation, and magnetic and gravity separation from the process flow-sheet. Eliminating these processes has significantly reduced the capital and operating costs of the processing of material to a mixed rare earth concentrate.

The program has two phases: a bench-scale program and a continuous pilot-scale program. The bench-scale work is nearing completion (target completion is November 2016 for all reporting). Below are some key accomplishments of the bench-scale testing to date:

  1. The bench-scale testing has confirmed the leachability of the FOXTROT material by the Search Direct Extraction Process.
  2. The removal of uranium from the rare earth leach solution by ion exchange has been demonstrated.  This will provide for low levels of uranium in the final mixed rare earth oxide for refining.
  3. The removal of zinc as a zinc sulfide precipitate has been demonstrated. This will provide for low levels of zinc in the final mixed rare earth oxide for refining.

The continuous pilot plant equipment is in the final stages of design and procurement. A Holoflite unit has been rented from the Metso Corporation for demonstrating the use of the Holoflite in the acid thermal treatment step. The unit has been commissioned at SGS and demonstrated to be able to continuously treat 10 kg/hour of FOXTROT material at 180 to 200 °C.  The Holoflite system is a heating system normally used to dry mineral concentrates before shipping that has been adapted for use in the treatment of Foxtrot material with acid he current target for completion of the construction of the “front end” pilot plant is December 2016 (process from ore crushing to precipitation of a mixed rare earth carbonate or hydroxide). The completion of the “back end” through to high purity mixed rare earth oxide will follow closely on these dates.

Greg Andrews, President and CEO, states, “We are looking forward to completion of the pilot plant, as it will provide Search with samples of a mixed rare earth concentrate created from the FOXTROT deposit. These samples will be crucial to provide potential refineries or new technology companies with actual product to further separate into individual oxides. We continue to seek strategic investors and offtake partners and these samples will help us towards this goal. We are also expecting to commence foundational environmental work during the pilot plant operation, which will provide crucial data, such as dry residue analysis and liquid effluent analysis, as we have initiated the process to complete environmental applications.”