Montero Mining and Exploration (CVE:MON) said Monday it has produced the first samples of concentrated rare earth chemical grade products from its Wigu Hill project in Tanzania.
company said it believes it is one of the first companies to be able to
produce samples of saleable rare earth products, which shows it is
serious about securing an offtake agreement.
"The production of
samples of Mixed Rare Earth and Cerium chemical products for marketing
purposes is a major milestone as it will enable Montero to enter into
advance discussions with off-take partners able to assist in the
financing of mine and refinery operations," said president and CEO, Tony
"Advancing the hydro-metallurgical flowsheet
established by Montero and Mintek puts us on track to de-risk the
project and is a significant milestone in achieving early production
from the Wigu Hill Project.”
The products produced included a
mixed rare earth carbonate, oxalate and hydroxide and importantly, an
individual cerium hydroxide product. The products were generated from
bastnaesite-rich carbonatite material at Wigu Hill.
hydroxide was produced using standard chemical separation processes and
Montero said "it may be possible to further upgrade the product
specification for additional sales value add".
The news today
gives Montero a viable hydrometallurgical process route to produce "high
value" rare earth chemical products for potential sale from Wigu Hill.
“up-front” recovery of cerium from the leach plant solutions is
expected to simplify the down-stream refining process and potentially
reduce the refinery capital and operating costs, the company said.
Further investigation with Mintek into the production of other
value-added products is on-going, the company added, including the
extraction of a potentially saleable strontium chemical product.
was determined as being of potential economic importance once it was
found that the mineral could be leached into solution during acid leach
testwork done by Mintek, South Africa's national mineral research
organization and the company's research provider.
The samples of
the saleable rare earths products were produced as Montero completed
the third phase of hydro-metallurgical testwork by Mintek. The aim was
to consider the design efficiencies of a multiple leach process and to
produce a mixed rare earth product for assessment by potential off-take
This process design has now been successfully tested on both a laboratory and bulk scale, Montero said.
company also said it is undertaking discussions with interested
off-take groups and customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the
The Wigu Hill property was first identified in the
1950s as a high grade deposit, with a large carbonatite complex
measuring 6.4 by 3.2 kilometres. The asset has bastnaesite
mineralization and is considered a "look-a-like" to Molycorp's (NYSE:MCP)
Mountain Pass project. The rare earth elements at the deposit are
hosted in the mineral bastnaesite found in carbonatite dikes, making it
similar to Molycorp's Mountain Pass deposit in the USA.
earth elements, a group of 15 metals, are critical in the development
of emerging green technologies and high-tech applications, from electric
and hybrid vehicles and wind and hydro power turbines, to LCD screens,
MRI, X-ray machines, mobile devices and other computing equipment.
is working to update the initial NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate
for its Wigu Hill project this quarter, and is targeting cash flow from a
small mining operation at the Twiga Zone.
Last September, the
company released a 3.3 million tonne inferred resource on only a
fraction of the Wigu Hill complex. Only the Tembo and Twiga deposits on
the eastern side were estimated to contain an inferred resource of 3.3
million tonnes at a grade of 2.6% light rare earth oxide (LREO5).
is focused on upgrading the resource, and has hired Turgis Consulting
to perform a scoping study on the property, due out in the first half of
Last month, the company said that rare earth dike
mineralization from its flagship property was proven to be amenable to
upgrading by X-Ray sorting, with over 80 percent recovery.
testwork also continues to advance with Mintek, including further
optimization tests and development work to enhance the work to date and
generate high purity rare earth products for sale.
A report on
the results of the Stage 1 refinery Ttstwork, which includes results on
leaching tests completed to date, is expected in the second quarter.
This report will provide sufficient data to form the design basis for a pre-feasibility study, Montero concluded.