Results add link to American Rare Earths’ supply chain vision
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American Rare Earths has more potentially game-changing news about its 100% owned La Paz project as the company moves the Arizona project forward to meet the escalating demand for critical minerals.
The latest update is about metallurgy results and before the eyes of all you readers without chemistry degrees glaze over, metallurgy is particularly critical to costs and supply chain opportunities associated with rare earths projects.
American Rare Earths (ASX:ARR) latest results, which follow positive metallurgy test results from the La Paz ore in April, again demonstrate that the ore responds well to conventional processing technology, thereby reducing operating and capital costs.
In addition to the testwork, industry leaders Wood, in Perth, developed a conceptual flowsheet that maximises the recovery of rare earth metals, particularly the high value magnet metals Neodymium and Praseodymium. It’s this pair of rare earths, often referred to by their atomic symbols of Nd and Pr, that are essential to the clean energy transition because of their use in batteries for electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines. They’re also used in many consumer electronics.
Standout results from the testwork included high levels of rare earth metals extraction and rapid dissolution times. Total rare earth oxide (TREO) recovery rates were up to 66.4%. The rates for Scandium, dubbed the ‘super alloy’ of the future and ‘secret sauce’ in solid oxide fuel cells, reached 71.5%.
Notably, 75% of gangue – or waste – material can be removed through magnetic separation, which reduces capital and operating costs.
The results also further confirmed very low thorium and uranium penalty elements.
This not only helps to reduce costs but has also made the Australian based company a highly appealing partner for some top tier US R&D organisations racing to develop a domestic rare earths supply chain.
A bonus from the testwork is that it offers valuable insights into accelerating the technical development of ARR’s huge Halleck Creek project, given that its ore is similar to that from La Paz.
Early this month ARR lifted the exploration target at Halleck Creek in Wyoming by 328% to an eye-watering 1.01- 1.27 billion tonnes of rare earth mineralised rocks.
This makes Halleck Creek a project of globally significant scale and, along with La Paz project, it has the potential to be one of the largest rare earths projects in North America.
CEO and Managing Director, Mr Chris Gibbs, commented, “These latest metallurgical results are extremely encouraging and continue to advance the La Paz Project in the right direction in its development.
“We acknowledge the great work industry leaders Wood Australia, Nagrom and Watts & Fisher have been conducting on our behalf.
“With its high levels of rare earth metals extraction and rapid dissolution times, Watts and Fisher’s leaching technology could be a game-changer in developing La Paz and Halleck Creek, given the projects share similar mineralogy.
“They also have ongoing contracts with the US Department of Defense, with which we are linked through our collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency EMBER R&D program aiming to develop a clean rare earths supply chain for the US.
“Also very pleasing is the ongoing confirmation that La Paz has very low levels of penalty elements thorium and uranium. This is beneficial from an environmental and handling perspective and makes our Company more likely to be invited to be involved with additional US Government-supported supply chain R&D programs.”
A unique challenge of processing rare earths is that they’re difficult to separate from each other.
Nd and Pr are even sometimes referred to as “the twins” because they’re always together and are difficult to pull apart, with neodymium meaning “the new twin” in Greek and praseodymium meaning “the green twin”.
Another complicating factor with rare earths from many projects is that radioactive materials are present, making waste disposal a challenge.
This is not the case with American Rare Earths’ ore, which is why it has been chosen to collaborate with US Government funded R&D projects developing clean, green supply chain diversity and security.
This article was developed in collaboration with American Rare Earths, 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.