Meeka has a ‘simple, cheap’ processing route to improving REE grades at Circle Valley
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Meeka is understandably in good cheer after testing found material from its Circle Valley rare earths project is readily beneficiated using ‘simple, cheap and well understood’ techniques.
Upstream beneficiation testing showed that up to 90.4% of the valuable REEs can be recovered in the -20µm size fraction while removing up to 65.5% of the mass using cheap and simple screening and hydro-cyclone classification.
This effectively increases the REE grade – evenly distributed between light, heavy and valuable magnet REEs – by up to 91% through the simple step of rejecting the coarse fraction.
Having less material to process during the actual processing stages will likely result in lower costs for Meeka Metals (ASX:MEK), which will in turn improve the economics of developing Circle Valley.
Managing director Tim Davidson said the result was possible due to the majority of Circle Valley REE mineralisation being hosted in the fine fraction (-20µm) of the clays.
“This presents an opportunity to remove waste and significantly upgrade the rare earth grades using simple, cheap and well understood upstream mineral processing techniques,” he added.
“Our metallurgical team are now focussed on the next phase of test work, which will optimise the leach conditions for extraction of the rare earth elements from the fine fraction of the clays.
“In addition to the ongoing metallurgical test work, drilling continues to show a shallowing cover profile to the northwest at Circle Valley, corresponding with a +1,000ppm high-grade component of the rare earth mineralisation, rich in NdPr magnet rare earth elements.”
The company will now carry out leach testing on the -20µm clay fraction hosting the majority of the REEs to develop a recovery curve for both ammonium sulphate (ionic portion of the rare earth elements) and acid (non-ionic portion of the rare earth elements).
Initial metallurgical testwork performed earlier this year prior to the beneficiation testing also showed encouraging results with total rare earth oxide (TREO) extraction averaging about 76% and magnet rare earths extraction averaging 82%.
Meeka will also carry out infill resource drilling in early 2023 over the shallow, high-grade mineralisation at Circle Valley, which will in turn feed into an initial Resource estimate for delivery in the June 2023 quarter.
Previous drilling at the project had returned stellar results such as 12m grading 2,690 parts per million (ppm) TREO (26% NdPr) and 26g/t scandium from a down-hole depth of 20m in hole 22CVAC250.
This article was developed in collaboration with Meeka Metals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.