Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. recently concluded a development program with SGS Minerals Services, one of the world's leading metallurgical research laboratories, which produced a comprehensive enhancement to the flotation phase that substantially reduces the mass pull and optimizes rare earth metals recoveries.
Quest's flotation optimization project consisted of a four-month bench-scale testing process aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the flowsheet presented in the company's June 2014 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA).
Pierre Lortie, Quest Executive Chairman, commented, "We are very pleased with the results of this important optimization work. They not only confirm the approach adopted by Quest for ore concentration but, additionally, identify methods and approaches to considerably reduce the overall anticipated capital expenditures and operating costs of the project".
Dirk Naumann, Executive Vice-President, Development, stated that "these strong results constitute important progress in confirming our process parameters. We now look forward to proceed to a mini-scale pilot plant and rigorous full-scale pilot testing, both of which will further confirm and fine-tune the process flowsheet for optimal performance and cost of the separation processes."
Key Optimization Results
Compared to the results presented in the 2014 PEA, we obtain:
- A 57% reduction in average flotation concentrate production - from the 578,000 dry mt reported in the June 2014 PEA to 247,000 dry mt. The extensive testing program demonstrated a mass pull of around 20%, with rare earth oxide recoveries of approximately 80%.
- A 38% savings in the cost of transporting flotation concentrate from the mine site to the Bécancour plants. The transport costs in the June 2014 PEA were $54.2M/yr or $5.20/kg of rare earth oxide output; they are reduced to $33M/yr or $3.05/kg, a cost savings of $2.15/kg.
- The large reduction in the volume of flotation concentrate (a 57% or 331 mt/yr reduction) feeding into the processing plants at Bécancour will also result in significant reductions in both processing plant capital and operating costs (yet to be quantified).