VHM Limited has confirmed the downstream potential for its Goschen Rare Earth Project, with the Company’s Pilot Hydromet Plant for the production of high-quality mixed rare earth carbonate showing recoveries of up to 97 per cent.
Rare Earth Recoveries
The pilot Hydromet Plant was able to convert rare earth mineral concentrate feed from the Goschen Project to a high-purity MREC Project, with recovery rates of 97% for critical light rare earth Neodymium and Praseodymium and rates of 92% and 94% for critical heavy rare earths Dysprosium and Terbium, respectively.
The testwork program was operated by leading rare earth research and testwork facility ANSTO, who designed the operation in a way to emulate consumptions and recoveries expected from commercial operations, with the program using a conventional Sulphate Bake path followed by Water Leach and Purification stages prior to precipitating the MREC product.
Over 100kg of high-purity MREC product was created from the pilot plant, with total impurities being low at 2.5% – 3.0%, and final measures of uranium and thorium also being exceptionally low.
The testwork has further demonstrated the potential of VHM’s flagship Goschen, showing that these high-recovery rates can be expected in the commercial processing of the Goschen Ore body’s massive 413,107 tonnes of total rare earth oxide.
VHM also plans to use samples produced from the program as product review samples to advance discussion with both potential offtake partners and potential strategic partners.
Data from this testwork will also be used to inform a Front-End Engineering Design study for a commercial scale Hydromet Plant, with the Company remaining open to accelerate development if reasonable proposals become available.
The Company said the successful trial of the Pilot Plant is an important step along the path towards making financial investment decisions.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the team at ANSTO who have worked closely with our VHM processing team and advised consultants to reach this milestone. These recoveries are world-leading and meet the required specifications of Western strategic offtake partners. The success of this plant opens opportunities for VHM to partner with other industry players,” Managing Director Graham Howard.
“It should be noted that a large part of this processing success is due to the unique and favourable mineralogy within the Goschen ore body. In addition, VHM can now provide valuable intellectual expertise to strategic partners who will benefit from knowledge sharing and the proof of concept of this Pilot Hydromet Plant.”
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