Canadian Mining Journal


RARE EARTHS: Ucore to assess RapidSX separation technology

Core from Ucore Rare Metals' Bokan rare earth element project in Alaska. Credit: Ucore Rare Metals

Core from Ucore Rare Metals’ Bokan rare earth element project in Alaska. Credit: Ucore Rare Metals

HALIFAX – Ucore Rare Metals has signed an agreement to test Innovation Metals Corp.’s  RapidSX REE separation technology to process mineralization from its Bokan-Dotsan Ridge rare earth elements project in southeast Alaska.

Developed by IMC with US$1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Defense’s U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Ucore notes that the RapidSX technology combines solvent extraction (“SX“), the international REE industry’s standard commercial separation technology, with a new column-based platform, which significantly reduces time to process completion and plant footprint.

“We are very excited to be working with IMC and its RapidSX technology and believe there is considerable merit in an evolution of the well-proven conventional SX process, with specific interest in the reduction of capex and required plant footprint, as we simultaneously seek various funding opportunities for our planned Alaska Strategic Metals Complex,” said Ucore chairman Pat Ryan.

Ucore management visited the RapidSX pilot plant and laboratory in Mississauga, Ont., in November.

RapidSX was developed by IMC; Hexagon Energy Materials is the company’s partner in commercializing the technology, which will be assessed as a method of separating REE concentrate materials into high-purity rare earth oxides (REOs).

Commenting on the technical services agreement, Hexagon’s managing director Mike Rosenstreich said the binding agreement brings third-party validation to the RapidSX technology.

“Over the past several years, Ucore has evaluated a range of alternative REE-separation processes, resulting in the selection of solvent-extraction chemistry, which led to their interest in the proprietary RapidSX REE separation technology, offering significant capex and opex savings compared to current conventional SX-based commercial REE separation,” Rosenstreich said. “With RapidSX, existing REE producers and project developers can integrate the addition of downstream REE separation to produce REOs, thus significantly increasing margins, saleable products and most importantly — to effectively compete with Chinese operators.”

Ucore’s Bokan-Dotsan Ridge project, 60 km southwest of Ketchikan, has an indicated resource of 4.8 million tonnes of total rare earth oxides (TREO) grading 0.602% TREO for 31,772 tons TREO (at a cutoff grade of 0.4% TREO). Inferred resources total 1.1 million tonnes grading 0.603% TREO for 6,979 tons TREO. The deposit is rich in heavy rare earth elements including the critical elements dysprosium, terbium and yttrium, and also hosts niobium, zirconium, beryllium, hafnium, titanium and vanadium.

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