Northern Minerals Limited (ASX: NTU) has announced the commencement of a Scoping Study to the investigate separation technology on intermediate mixed rare earths materials produced at Browns Range in WA.
NTU said that the Scoping Study was commenced to investigate downstream processing of mixed rare earths into separated rare earth oxides.
The company reported that U.S.A based K-Technologies, Inc. was selected to undertake bench scale testwork and Scoping Study.
Northern Minerals said that samples are planned to be dispatched to the U.S.A for testwork to commence in September 2019. If successful, the addition of separation technologies is anticipated to allow the Company to value-add and increase the range of potential customers.
Browns Range project
The Browns Range Project is located 160km south east of Halls Creek in northern Western Australia and is positioned to become the first significant dysprosium producer outside of China.
The Total Mineral Resource at the Project is estimated at 8.98 Mt @ 0.63% total rare earth oxides (TREO) comprising 56,663,000kg contained TREO using a cut-off grade of 0.15% TREO.
The Mineral Resource of Browns Range comprises of six deposits; Wolverine, Gambit, Gambit West, Area 5, Cyclops and Banshee.
Scoping study at Browns Range
NTU has now announced the commencement of a Scoping Study to the investigate separation technology on intermediate mixed rare earths materials produced at Browns Range.
If adopted, this technology will allow Northern Minerals to produce separated rare earth oxides, including dysprosium oxide and terbium oxide for sale directly to permanent magnet makers globally, rather than a mixed heavy rare earth carbonate that currently requires separation in China.
K-Technologies Inc. to assess suitability
Northern Minerals reported that U.S.A based K-Technologies, Inc. would assess the suitability of the company’s proprietary technology to separate intermediate mixed rare earths material from Browns Range into targeted individual rare earth oxides.
K-Tech is a privately held applied chemical technology firm that offers unique process technology, know-how, and development capabilities for the minerals and chemicals industries.
K-Tech’s low-cost and environmentally safe separation and purification methodologies have been successfully tested and confirmed in various industries around the world including applications in phosphates, potash, and rare earths.
Details of Scoping Study
The company reported that the Scoping Study will involve sending intermediate mixed rare material to K-Tech’s laboratory in Florida (U.S.A) for the bench scale separation and purification testwork.
NTU said that the Scoping Study will look at the yield potential of targeted rare earth elements and will include an estimate of associated operating and capital costs.
Northern Minerals reported that the sample is planned to be dispatched to K-Tech in August 2019 with initial testwork results expected in the December quarter.
If the bench scale testwork and Scoping Study is successful, the Company said that it intends to undertake a pilot testwork program and install the technology as part of the current Pilot Plant Project at Browns Range to assess the saleability of this differentiated product to an end user customer base.
Northern Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, George Bauk, said “The Pilot Plant Project at Browns Range is all about understanding the potential to become a globally-significant heavy rare earth producer.
The investigation of separation technology is a natural extension of the existing pilot plant studies. With everything we do, we are looking at ways of doing it better, more profitably and delivering value to our shareholders.
With the recent announcement regarding the adoption of ore sorting technology, which will increase production and reduce costs, this exciting new initiative has the potential to take that increased production and convert it into a significantly more valuable and sought-after end product.”