Nuinsco Resources Limited ("Nuinsco" or the "Company") today reported that it has extracted a 30 tonne sample of carbonatite rock from its Prairie Lake project in northwestern Ontario for metallurgical evaluation. The sample has been shipped for processing by a leading US-based mineral technology company that has developed a proprietary process to cost-effectively recover certain high-value minerals including those contained at Prairie Lake.
"We have already shown that we can produce high-quality phosphorus and niobium concentrates; this 30 tonne sample represents a further step in our ongoing program to evaluate the economic potential of Prairie Lake," said Nuinsco CEO Paul Jones. "Prairie Lake contains a wealth of valuable minerals, however we recognize that the true value of any deposit can only be realized if a marketable product can be cost-effectively extracted. Unlike many carbonatites, Prairie Lake is not a hinterland location. Situated close to the north shore of Lake Superior, Prairie Lake lies near the town of Marathon and the Hemlo mining district, and for that reason, all of the existing infrastructure and transportation networks needed for mineral production are close at hand. The processing of this sample should very quickly identify if this metallurgical process is viable on Prairie Lake rock. The Company will also obtain valuable end product concentrates for evaluation."
The mineral technology company, with which Nuinsco is working under the terms of a non-disclosure agreement, has a demonstrated track record of profitably identifying, extracting and separating commercially-attractive commodities at extremely low concentrations, particularly rare earths. Prairie Lake is one of the world's largest carbonatite-hosted inventories of apatite-based phosphate and rare earth element (REE) mineralization. Further, the concentration of light REEs in the mineral apatite at Prairie Lake is amongst the highest in the world, in comparison with other carbonatite intrusive complexes.
Although the metallurgical study will evaluate a suite of elements that might potentially be economically extracted, it will focus on REEs as the recovery of these elements can be problematic using conventional processing due to the possible presence of more than one mineral containing REEs and the potential number of REEs present (as many as 14 REEs plus yttrium may be present at Prairie Lake, although not all at economic concentrations).
REEs are vital to the production of high-tech products, including computers, smartphones and televisions. They are also viewed as "green metals" because a significant share of the REE market is taken up by magnets (~25%) used in wind turbines, hybrid electric vehicles, e-bikes and maglev trains; by automotive catalytic converters (~7%), which minimize toxic emissions into the atmosphere; and by phosphors (~6%), whose numerous applications include energy-efficient fluorescent lighting. The primary use of apatite is in the manufacture of fertilizer but it also has important industrial applications, including industrial cleaners, pharmaceuticals, dyes and ceramic glazes.
About Prairie Lake
Located about 45 kilometres northwest of Marathon, Ontario, Nuinsco's 100%-owned, royalty-free Prairie Lake property covers the entire 2.8 km2 (at surface) Prairie Lake carbonatite complex and is easily accessible from the TransCanada Highway.
The suite of minerals of potentially economic significance also includes tantalum (Ta), uranium (U), niobium (Nb) and REEs (including lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), samarium (Sm), neodymium (Nd) and yttrium (Y)). The NI-43-101-compliant Exploration Target Mineralization Inventory ("ETMI")(see news release issued October 26, 2011) is 515 - 630 million tonnes with combined REEs (La+Ce+Sm+Nd and Y) of 1,370-1,660 g/t and also grading between 0.09-0.11% Nb2O5 (0.9 to 1.1 kg/tonne) and 3.0-4.0% P2O5, making Prairie Lake one of the world's ten largest carbonatite-hosted niobium deposits (and in North America second only to the Iron Hill Project in Colorado, USA, in contained tonnes - the grade at Prairie Lake is however greater). The current metallurgical work establishes the project as a substantial, recoverable, phosphorus inventory. The ETMI, calculated on only a small proportion of the entire Prairie Lake intrusion, was undertaken by Eugene Puritch, P.Eng. and Antoine Yassa, P.Geo of P&E Mining Consultants Inc. of Brampton, Ontario.
All exploration work at Prairie Lake is supervised by Laura Giroux, P.Geo, Senior Geologist, who acts as Nuinsco's Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101. Ms. Giroux has reviewed and approved the technical contents of this news release. The potential quantity and grade of the ETMI is conceptual in nature and there has been insufficient exploration to define a mineral resource. It is uncertain if further exploration will result in the discovery of a mineral resource.