Ongoing metallurgical work at l’Université Laval has so far accomplished a number of goals while helping Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram deposit move towards pre-feasibility. Researchers found success in their primary task of validating new software for REE separation but met other goals as well.
“The rapid progress of this collaboration now includes the first-ever mixed rare earth oxide concentrate produced from Ashram deposit material,” said Commerce president Chris Grove. “This is a key milestone for the advancement of the project. This test work has demonstrated again the versatility of the Ashram deposit to be processed by a number of different flowsheet approaches.”
Laval’s team achieved bench scale production of mixed light rare earths oxide and mixed LRE/samarium, gadolinium and europium/heavy rare earths oxide.
Previous work produced over 45% rare earths oxide, among the highest-grade concentrates for RE development projects and comparing favourably with operating mines, Commercereported. “This is a direct result of the simple rare earth and gangue mineralogy of the Ashram deposit…. This versatility in processing approaches lends itself to more cost-effective methods to be incorporated into the final flowsheet to achieve the same products and quality desired.”
Laval achieved recovery rates of 60% to 65% for several light rare earths, while modifications are anticipated to bring further improvement.
The work also validated the university’s software, as results closely matched the simulator’s predictions. Using another 1.5 tonnes of Ashram material, the lab team will conduct tests at the larger pilot scale level, comparing its results with those of the simulator and further assessing the economics of REE separation into individual rare earth oxides.
The software is intended to reduce processing delays and costs, as well as predict results for processing changes. The software might also determine process optimization that considers current REE prices.
The studies get financial support through a $365,000 grant from Quebec’s ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation.
Last month Commerce reported positive results from advanced tailings optimization tests conducted by a branch of l’Université du Québec. Additional provincial funding supports that research. The company also received government support from a $1-million investment by Ressources Québec last year.
The Commerce portfolio also includes the advanced-stage Blue River tantalum-niobium project in British Columbia and, a few kilometres from Ashram, an early-stage high-grade niobium project that’s conditionally subject to a 75% earn-in by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE.