Peak Resources Limited today announced that ANSTO Minerals (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) has completed preparation of feed material for the Ngualla solvent extraction (SX) Pilot Plant.
The ability to produce separated high purity products adds significant value to the project and allows access to wider markets for Ngualla's products.
- An average 83% recovery of rare earths in the acid leach stage was achieved from the bulk sample.
- The work independently verifies the 'Proof of Concept' simple acid leach recovery flowsheet at a larger scale using a bulk composite of weathered Bastnaesite Zone rare earth mineralisation from Ngualla.
- The rare earth chloride feed solution produced is exceptionally pure with thorium and uranium levels below detection limits.
- An optimisation program on the acid leach and purification flowsheet is expected to improve process efficiencies further and Peak has commissioned ANSTO to complete this work.
- The SX Pilot Plant remains on track to deliver four separated > 99% purity rare earth oxide (REO) products successively over the next few months with the final product delivered by mid-2013.
- In addition to providing product samples and specifications for assessment by potential off take customers, the work will provide detailed engineering data for the design of the full scale SX plant for inclusion in the Pre-Feasibility Study currently in progress.
- The SX Pilot Plant work will confirm the end to end process of Ngualla mineralisation to high value products, demonstrating the de-risking of the project, and is a major step toward achieving production in early 2016.
The work was achieved using the simple sulphuric acid leach recovery process to treat a 1.3 tonne bulk sample of Peak's Ngualla rare earth mineralisation, which further verifies the robustness of the process flow sheet.
Peak Managing Director Richard Beazley said, "The independent verification of the Ngualla process flowsheet by ANSTO Minerals further demonstrates that Peak has a robust and reliable metallurgical treatment process that works for the weathered Bastnaesite mineralisation at Ngualla. Completion of the SX Pilot Plant work will place Peak amongst a very select few companies to have successfully produced high quality purified rare earth products."