ABx Group’s (ASX:ABX) first leach-test of a bulk sample of the company’s Rare Earth Elements (REE) mineralisation at its DL130 project area in Tasmania has confirmed that the REE can be leached by cold water.
A composite bulk sample was collected from across the mineralised zone and soaked in cold distilled water at approximately 12° C for 24 hours.
Cloudy liquids were filtered-off using a 125 micron sieve and dried at 105° C, with the precipitate from the cloudy liquid assayed by a commercial lab.
Results showed that REE are significantly enriched in the precipitate from the cloudy cold water, while deleterious elements are strongly depleted in the precipitate from the cloudy cold water.
Other notable results included:
- Radioactive elements (uranium and thorium) are very low grade in all fractions
- Some test results suggest that leaching with a sulphate solution (e.g. dilute ammonium sulphate fertiliser in water) could increase the leach recovery of REE into the water fraction.
ABx discovered mineralisation enriched in the super-magnetic rare earth elements Neodymium (Nd), Praseodymium (Pr), Terbium (Tb) and Dysprosium (Dy) which are strategically important, high priced metals needed for electric vehicles, wind turbines, smart phones and military electronics.
ABx Operations Manager, Nathan Towns, said the company believes it has discovered “water-soluble” REE resources that can be concentrated into a saleable precipitate by low-cost leaching with dilute water-based solutions, with the test results supporting that concept.
“This research work will continue to provide a better understanding of the potential of our rare earth element mineralisation,” Mr Towns said.
“The current results support our interpretations that the REE occurs as ionic substances that are loosely bound to clays and are therefore relatively easy to leach and precipitate a concentrate that is saleable. The mineralisation appears to be Ionic Adsorption Clay deposits (IAC) which have been a major source of low-cost REE production in southern China until recently.
“We are conducting further metallurgical tests on bulk samples to confirm the deposit type and continue assembling results to design a low-cost concentration method for our REE type of mineralisation.”
ABx CEO, Ian Levy said prices for the four super-magnet REE are still rising strongly.
“ABx is targeting the IAC type of REE mineralisation that can be developed fastest so as to give ABx shareholders an opportunity to capture some of the value from this bull market situation,” he said.