Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Quest Rare Minerals produces zirconium and rare earth concentrate at Strange Lake

Quest Rare Minerals (TSE:QRM) (AMEX:QRM) Tuesday released a summary of what it called "extremely encouraging" metallurgical test results of its Strange Lake B-Zone deposit in northeastern Quebec.
The Strange Lake property, located 220 kilometres northeast of Schefferville and 125 kilometres west of the Voisey Bay Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Mine, covers an area of 54,000 hectares.
The company said that significant improvements in metal extraction have been achieved at Hazen Research, of Golden, Colorado.
Quest reported that acid consumptions of approximately 200 kilograms per tonne (kg/t) are being achieved with rare earth elements (REE) dissolutions in the 90 to 96 percent range, niobium dissolutions in the 93 to 96 percent range, and zirconium dissolutions in the 85 to 93 percent range.
Bench scale work has shown “excellent reproducibility”, and most operating variables have been established, said the company.
Flow sheets, developed by Process Research Ortech Inc., achieved the separation of zirconium, niobium, Uranium and thorium, and REE concentrate, and bench scale work has confirmed these flow sheets to the extent that a zirconium hydroxide product and a REE+Y oxalate product have been produced, Quest noted.
Uranium and thorium have also been successfully extracted from the circuit with the intention of producing an environmentally-stable discharge product, said the company.
In addition, significant work has been carried out on niobium and titanium separation, and Quest expects that this separation will be resolved next month.
"The metallurgical test results from the Strange Lake B-Zone are extremely encouraging," said president and CEO Peter J. Cashin.
"The relatively simple flow sheet has demonstrated recoveries significantly higher than those achieved in previous test work for Strange Lake, and also higher relative to our peers in the rare earth sector."
The company said that extensive testing of the thermal process has resulted in extraction without the use of sodium hydroxide or extreme temperatures.
Quest said test work has been performed on a number of metallurgical samples, including a composite sample that represents the first 10 years of mine life.
Looking ahead, the company said that mini-pilot plant testing to confirm individual product flow sheets established from bench scale testing is scheduled to begin in September this year.
The results of these pilot programs will be used to finalize the flow sheet for the full scale pilot plant, expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2013.
The separations facility will not be part of Quest’s pre-feasibility study, expected in the second half of 2012.
The company is currently advancing the Strange Lake and Misery Lake areas of northeastern Quebec.
The B-Zone deposit at Strange Lake is one of the largest heavy rare earth resources in the world and is exposed at surface and amenable to a low-cost open pit mine. It has the potential to provide a long-term, stable supply of separated and refined heavy rare earths.
In April 2010, an NI 43-101 preliminary resource estimate of the B Zone completed by Wardrop Engineering indicated that at a 0.95 percent total rare earth oxides (TREO) base-case cut-off grade, the B Zone contains an indicated resource of 36.4 million tonnes grading 1.16 percent TREO, 2.17 percent zirconium oxide, 0.24 percent niobium pentoxide, 0.05 percent hafnium oxide and 0.12 percent beryllium oxide.
This resource calculation showed the heavy rare earth oxide-rich nature of the B Zone, representing between 40 and 51 percent of the TREO in the deposit.
Rare earths are group elements critical in the development of clean energy technologies including electronics, hybrid vehicles, permanent magnets, green energy platforms and advanced technologies for national defence.
Earlier this year, Quest released definition drill results from the B-Zone, which returned multiple, high grade intersections of between 1.12 and 6.11 percent TREO, over thicknesses of 2.34 to 147.0 metres, the company said.
The higher in value heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) represented between 22.4 and 76.5 percent of the TREO content intersected in this drilling.
Among the best holes of the infill program, BZ-11-218 hit 1.44 percent TREO over 144.4 metres, and hole BZ-11-189 returned 1.23 percent TREO over 116.1 metres, including 3.04 percent TREO over 11.7 metres and 4.9 percent TREO over 4.9 metres.
In another announcement, the company has appointed Colin Lindsay as VP of operations, effective today.

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