iTech Minerals reports rare earth recoveries up to 86% TREO at Caralue Bluff prospect, South Australia 

iTech Minerals (ASX:ITM) has recorded a ‘breakthrough’ in rare earth element (REE) metallurgy at its Caralue Bluff clay-hosted REE prospect in South Australia. 

The company has delivered recoveries of up to 86% total rare earth oxide (TREO) from 3 leaching trials at the prospect, which forms part of its Eyre Peninsula Project.

iTech Metals says leaching trials were undertaken by metallurgical consultancy METS Engineering and produced recoveries of up to 88% for magnetic rare earth oxides (MREOs). 

The company reports that testwork also indicates a high-chloride environment is required to liberate REEs from the clay host material, with results demonstrating that 13 out of 15 REEs can be leached using hydrochloric acid. 

Additionally, results suggest the bulk of the REEs should be extractable and not bound within the lattice structure of the clay particles or in resistive minerals such as zircon or monazite. 

Results were generated from a single composite sample from 28 samples of clay ionic clay intervals prepared from drillhole CBAC22-162, which returned an interval of 10m @ 1157 parts per million TREO, as reported by the company in August 2022. 

With the leaching tests now complete and results now received, iTech Minerals announces future tests will include an investigation into optimal acid concentration in order to achieve the highest recovery at minimum acid consumption. 

The company notes it will also investigate the viability of REE extraction by ion exchange desorption (ICD), as this has the potential to lead to a much lower reagent cost if successful. iTech also notes it will continue to undertake low-level testwork on samples through METS Engineering.  

Commenting on the breakthrough, iTech Minerals Managing Director Mike Schwarz says: “The successful drilling program in 2022 proved up a large Exploration Target of 110 – 220 Mt @ 635 – 832 ppm TREO and 19-22% Al2O3 at Caralue Bluff. However, our challenge was to improve the recovery process. 

This has opened the path to creating a low-cost and effective leaching process”

Over the past few months, through our partnership with METS Engineering, we have systematically explored all the processing options and uncovered the right conditions for exceptional rare earth element recoveries. This has opened the path to creating a low-cost and effective leaching process. While it is still early days, this has the potential to be an important breakthrough for the economics of the Caralue Bluff Prospect.”

iTech Minerals is an ASX-listed mineral exploration company exploring for and developing battery materials and critical minerals within its wholly owned Australian projects. The company’s Eyre Peninsula Project is located within the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia and is situated about 30km from shipping facilities at Lucky Bay and 70km from the industrial mining city of Whyalla. 

The project is home to the Caralue Bluff prospect, which was initially established as a high-purity kaolin prospect following the identification of thick intervals of bright white kaolin, close to surface, within several drillholes.

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Images: Itech Minerals Ltd
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.