Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd (ASX: GGG) reports that significant improvements to metallurgical performance have been achieved in an optimisation programme for its world-class Kvanefjeld Project.
The optimisation programme is being undertaken with leading rare earth company and major shareholder Shenghe Resources Holding Co Ltd.
Shenghe have world class and proven technical expertise in all aspects of the rare earth value chain from mine to the production of high‐purity oxides and metals.
GMEL Managing Director Dr John Mair said to date significant improvements to metallurgical performance have been achieved, with mineral concentrate grades of greater than 23% REO, at overall recoveries at 78%, a significant increase on previous test work that generated concentrates of 15% REO at 79% recovery.
He said that notably, the Kvanefjeld Feasibility Study uses a mineral concentrate grade of 14% REO; well below the grades achieved by the revised flotation process now under development.
“This significant increase in mineral concentrate grade with a lower mass pull will result in substantial reductions in the size of equipment leading to lower capital and operating costs of the processing plant (atmospheric leach) circuit,” Dr Mair said.
“Importantly, the higher mineral concentrate grades allow for consideration of direct sales of mineral concentrates from the Kvanefjeld Project, as part of a phased development strategy to further reduce the initial development capital requirements.”
Dr Mair said GMEL and Shenghe are investigating this strategy, and will engage with the required regulatory bodies associated with the export of Kvanefjeld mineral concentrate. In contrast to common RE ore minerals, the unique ore minerals from Kvanefjeld are treated with a simple atmospheric acid leach process without complex high‐temperature stages, which equates to cost‐ competitive processing.
“The metallurgical improvements achieved by Shenghe to date are extremely significant, and set the scene for an exciting 2018 as we roll‐out the integration of Shenghe’s leading rare earth technology and sector experience with the world’s most significant emerging rare earth project in Kvanefjeld.
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“The concentrator circuit is just one of a number of focus areas, but increases in the order of 60% in rare earth concentrate grade will have a profoundly positive impact on the efficiency and cost‐ structure of the Kvanefjeld Project.
Of further importance, a grade of approximately 23% REO opens the opportunity to investigate the direct sale of mineral concentrates, that would serve to facilitate a staged development strategy with a low initial capital outlay.”
The Kvanefjeld Project, 100% owned by GMEL, is underpinned by a JORC‐code compliant resource of >1 billion tonnes, and an ore reserve estimate of 108 million tonnes to sustain an initial 37 year mine life.
It is projected to be one of the largest producers globally of key magnet metals including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium, along with by‐production of uranium and zinc.
In early 2017 a technical committee was established with representatives from both GMEL and Shenghe to oversee a test work program that aims to improve the metallurgical performance, simplify the processing route and related infrastructure, and improve the cost structure of the Kvanefjeld Project.