Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Montero says preliminary testwork a “significant step” in reducing costs at Wigu Hill


Montero Mining and Exploration (CVE:MON) said Tuesday that hydrometallurgical testwork represents a “significant step” in its efforts to reduce costs at its Wigu Hill rare earth project.
In a project update for the Wigu Hill rare earth project in Tanzania, the company said it has been researching various metallurgical technologies to potentially reduce operating and capital costs. 
The objective of the testwork was to reduce reagent consumption in the hydrometallurgical leach process that would provide feed to a rare earth elements (REE) extraction refinery.
Montero noted that the testwork achieved “good recoveries”, while “significantly reducing” reagent requirements allowing for potentially lower operating costs for processing the rare earths at Wigu Hill.
“Mintek and our team are focused on lowering operating and capital costs of our proposed hydrometallurgical flowsheet for the economic extraction of rare earths from the Wigu Hill project,” said president and CEO Tony Harwood.
“Preliminary testwork completed by Mintek represents a significant step in simplifying the hydrometallurgical process and potentially reducing costs. 
“Montero is examining the cost-benefit of a revised flowsheet in order to lower the cost of the extraction of REEs from the bastnaesite-rich carbonatite material at Wigu Hill.”
Montero and Mintek have been examining a combination of hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes to recover REEs from Wigu Hill and completed testwork has been published in an internal report. 
The program included a calcination pre-treatment step after which the residue was then subjected to a single stage hydrochloric acid leach to extract the REEs. 
The company noted that preliminary testwork results achieved a recovery of 77 per cent of REEs.
Montero said the internal report from Mintek will form the basis of further laboratory and pilot scale testwork in 2013 in which calcination as pre-treatment option will be further explored and optimized.
The company is engaged in the development of Wigu Hill, a high-grade, undeveloped light REE deposit, where the current focus is a fast-track strategy to advance a portion of the large deposit to the mining and production stage.
Wigu Hill covers a 142 square kilometre area and grab samples have yielded results as high as 27.25% total rare earth oxides, with up to 16.68% from drilling.
Montero also has four phosphate assets in South Africa and uranium assets in Tanzania and Quebec, Canada.

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