Innovation Metals Corp. is pleased to report on the successful testing of its proprietary Rapid Solvent Extraction process, for the low-cost separation of rare-earth elements and other technology metals.
"The patent-pending Rapid SX approach reduces the number of SX separation stages by over 90%," said Patrick Wong, CEO of IMC, "leading to a significant reduction in plant footprint and associated capital expenditures. The process also leads to dramatic reductions in operating costs and time to process completion, when compared to conventional SX."
In June 2014, IMC joined the first phase of a REE supply-chain development program, led by Technology Metals Research, LLC ("TMR") with US$1.2M in funding from the US Army Research Laboratory ("ARL"), part of the US Department of Defense. This first phase enabled the Company to operate a 130-stage, lab-scale conventional REE SX separation pilot plant in 2014 and 2015. Results from this work will be presented at the IMPC meeting in September 2016, to be held in Quebec.
In 2015, IMC began work to improve the conventional SX process, through its participation in a $1.7M second phase of the TMR / ARL development program. The Company evaluated a number of avenues before focusing on its current approach to Rapid SX.
"Rapid SX utilizes the time-proven chemistry of SX, in a set of proprietary columns filled with a simple contact medium," commented Gareth Hatch, President of IMC, co-founder of TMR and the Principal Investigator for the ARL-funded program. "The process avoids the need for expensive resins or other separation approaches unproven at scale."
Rapid SX has been used at the bench scale to successfully separate a number of REEs from REE concentrates, with purities greater than 99% being obtained.
"We have successfully shown that the Rapid SX process is effective at the bench level," said Dr. Hatch. "The next step is to demonstrate the process at scale. IMC has just completed the commissioning of a pilot-scale Rapid SX facility and will begin operating it later this month."
Rapid SX has garnered significant interest from current and future REE producers around the world. "The process has changed our entire business model," said Mr. Wong. "5 years ago we truly believed that REE separation should only be centralized, but with our technology, it is now cheap enough, small enough and easy enough to operate, for every REE producer to have its own separation plant. In fact, a Rapid SX plant could replace existing SX infrastructure, in the REE industry, as well as for metals such copper, cobalt, nickel, uranium and the like. Rapid SX also has the potential to benefit the heavy mineral-sands industry, where an on-site Rapid SX plant could be used as part of the process of monetizing waste monazite."
IMC will be hosting tours of its Rapid SX capabilities at facilities in Mississauga, Ontario, during PDAC Week (March 6-9, 2016). Interested parties are invited to contact the Company for more details.