Vital plant Saskatoon

Vital Metals produces crucial ‘high-grade’ rare earth concentrate at Saskatoon extraction facility

Vital Metals (ASX:VML) reports results from the first feed of the dense media separation (DMS) unit at its Saskatoon rare earths extraction facility in Canada is comparable to the TREO grade achieved from laboratory metallurgical testwork.

The company, which is Canada’s first rare earths producer, says the comparable grades the DMS plant achieved were 43.7% total rare earth oxide (TREO), compared to 44.6% TREO achieved in laboratory conditions.

The DMS unit at the Saskatchewan-based facility also achieved 75.2% recovery in its first run for a single pass, processing 2,300kg of concentrate mined at Vital’s Nechalacho rare earth project (North T zone), sorted onsite and then crushed at the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) facility adjacent to Vital’s Saskatoon plant.

With the concentrate grade reaching the target, the plant will now undergo several adjustments and ultimately further trials will be conducted.

These trials will involve taking the tails (floats) from the first pass and subjecting it to a second scavenging step to try and increase the recovery further, while maintaining the combined sinks concentrate grade >40% TREO.

Vital will use results from the DMS unit’s first run to finetune its Saskatoon operations.

Commenting on the results, Vital Metals Managing Director Geoff Atkins said: “Our team has achieved outstanding results from the DMS unit during initial commissioning at Saskatoon and the fact that on the first run we hit the laboratory test grades for total rare earths with 75% recovery with low grade feed material is above expectations.

“There will be work to do with optimising our process over the coming months but these initial results demonstrate incredible potential.

“It gives us a great level of confidence for future commissioning activities through the remaining process.

It gives us a great level of confidence for future commissioning activities

“We look forward to continuing our commissioning process with the production of our 2.5T qualification sample followed by production ramp-up.

Vital’s Saskatoon plant will have initial throughput capacity of 1,000 tonnes/year of rare earth oxide (REO) excluding cerium, which is equivalent to ~470t NdPr/year, increasing to 2,000 tonnes/year REO excluding cerium, equivalent to 940t NdPr/year in stage 2.

The company is Canada’s first rare earths producer following commencement of production at its Nechalacho rare earths project in June 2021. It holds a portfolio of rare earths, technology metals and gold projects located in Canada, Africa, and Germany.

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Written By Adam Orlando Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.