Rare Element Resources (AMEX:REE) (TSE:RES) said late Thursday that it has started both separation testing and metallurgical heavy rare earth testing of materials from its Bear Lodge project in Wyoming - in an effort to determine the best methods for extracting rare earths from the property.
company has inked an agreement with the Australian Nuclear Science and
Technology Organization to develop and test a process to produce
separated rare earth products from concentrates derived from ore
material at Bear Lodge.
In addition, Rare Element has also begun
metallurgical testing of drill core samples from the three areas at the
property that were found to contain high-grade heavy rare earth
elements. This heavy rare earth work is being done at Mountain States
R&D International in Vail, Arizona.
"We are very fortunate to have engaged ANSTO and MSRDI for our test work," said chief operating officer, Jaye Pickarts.
both have excellent international reputations in the REE scientific
community. As we continue our research into the processing of the ore
types at Bear Lodge, we are working to determine the most comprehensive
and economic methodology for extraction of the rare earth elements that
our potential customers will want."
For the separation study,
which will be conducted in two phases, the company's strategy is to
begin production of a bulk, mixed rare earth carbonate, and then
progress to the separation of the bulk concentrate into heavy rare earth
elements products using solvent extraction technology.
As the work advances, Rare Element said it could adjust the product suite to add or further separate additional products.
first phase of the study, taking place over the next few months, will
identify whether any further purification processing is required for the
production of a mixed rare earth carbonate. The second phase will
identify solvent extraction processes that will chemically achieve the
desired separated rare earth element products.
Once this is
done, the company plans to continue separation testing for individual
rare earth oxides, the specifications of which will be determined by
customer requirements, it said.
For the heavy rare earths
testing, the company will conduct hydrometallurgical concentration
testwork on 2011 drill core obtained from the Carbon, East Taylor and
Whitetail Ridge areas at Bear Lodge. According to exploration results
from last summer, these areas have been found to contain significantly
higher concentrations of heavy rare earth elements.
said preliminary exploration of these western areas indicate high
grades, greater than 3% rare earth oxide, and substantial quantities of
light rare earth elements, along with some of the highest grades of
heavy rare earths in North American rare earth element deposits.
oxidized-mineralized bodies in these three areas are particularly
enriched in europium, terbium, dysprosium, and gadolinium, with locally
The test work will focus on creating an upgraded
rare earth element pre-concentrate, using a combination of physical and
chemical processes, followed by further concentration using the process
already developed for the Bull Hill deposit.
elements refer to the lanthanide group of 15 specific elements, plus
scandium and yttrium, used for everything from smartphones to guided
missiles. Some of the major applications include hybrid automobiles,
advanced wind turbines, computer hard drives, metal alloys in steel,
additives in ceramics and glass, and many others.
While some rare earths are relatively common, they are dispersed in a
way that makes it difficult to find deposits with high enough ore
grades to economically exploit.
Due to their unique attributes, new applications are constantly being
developed for rare earths. Demand for the metals is expected to
continue to grow steadily as China, which produces 97 percent of the
world’s rare earths, has cut exports by more than half of 2004 levels
to 30,000 tons in 2010.
Rare Element Resources
said Thursday that it has been, and continues, to negotiate with some
"highly recognized companies" for potential off-take partnerships.