RareX tests prove viability of Stage 3 operations with high REE recoveries
RareX’s proposed Stage 3 rare earths operation at its Cummins Range phosphate and REE project has received a major boost from successful testwork.
Phosphoric acid gangue leach testing of a rougher concentrate successfully extracted 43% of the phosphate, which aligns neatly with the percentage of phosphate deporting to apatite, into the concentrate solution while leaving some 90% of the REEs in the leach residue.
This upgrades the total REE grade and makes the leach residue far better suited for further processing to extract REEs.
For RareX (ASX:REE), the high recovery of REEs into the residue means low losses of valuable REEs value into the phosphate concentrate product streams from Cummins Range, which will certainly make the economics of recovering REEs in Stage 3 all the more attractive.
And just to make it that little bit juicier, the testworks aligns with previous leach testwork undertaken at Nagrom and ANSTO, highlighting the potential of using the concentrate for production of high purity phosphoric acid given the low gangue (iron, aluminium and silicon) content.
“Whilst the initial DSO Stage-1 is our near-term focus it is still necessary to build the case for Stage-2 and Stage-3. These results are very positive in reinforcing our proposed path to maximising resource utilisation and value by moving from phosphates and into rare earths,” chief executive officer James Durrant said.
“We’re building out the operational philosophy and product market for Stage-1, we’ve demonstrated phosphate concentrate is readily achievable for Stage-2, and now, by being able to separate, at high recovery, the rare earths from the concentrate we are able to build our case for Stage-3.”
The testwork results, along with the recent, massive resource upgrade, will underpin the completion of a Scoping Study which will in turn serve as the base for a more advanced study due later in the year.
This Scoping Study – for the Stage 1 DSO (direct shipping ore) mining operation and Stage 2 phosphate beneficiation is scheduled for delivery this month while a fast-tracked Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the DSO product is due at the end of 2023.
Cummins Range currently has an Indicated and Inferred Resource of 519 million tonnes grading 0.32% total rare earth oxides (TREO) and 4.6% phosphate for contained resources of 1.6Mt TREO and 24Mt of phosphate following a pivot to using a phosphate cut-off rather than an REE cut-off.
Development will be carried out in three stages, with the initial DSO phosphate fertiliser phase involving the bulk mining of apatite mineral rock phosphate contained within the overburden, with trucking to Wyndham Port for transhipment to ocean going vessels.
Test work has already proven the high bioavailability of this DSO rock phosphate, making it suitable for use as direct application fertiliser.
Stage 2 is the proposed installation of simple flotation beneficiation infrastructure in order to concentrate the lower grade phosphate minerals from the regolith materials in the deposit while the last stage involves the expansion of the beneficiation plant in Stage 2 to extract REEs.
This article was developed in collaboration with RareX, 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.