THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Peak Resources (ASX: PEK) has reported the development of a process to physically upgrade rare earth mineralisation at the company’s Ngualla rare earths project in Tanzania.
The company has used a combination of Wet High Gradient Magnetic Separation (WHGMS) and a specialised flotation regime, which it claims has demonstrated 38 per cent of the plant feed can be rejected prior to acid leaching for just a 5 per cent loss in rare earth content.
Peak said the new process will result in reduced capital and operating costs for the Ngualla project .
Mass and rare earth recovery summary for beneficiation test work on weathered SREZ mineralisation. Source: Company announcement
Peak considers the beneficiation process, combined with a simple sulphuric acid leach using acid produced on site supports its vision for the 100 per cent-owned project to be a low-cost, long term rare earth producer.
The physical upgrade process will be included in a Scoping Study that is due for completion by mid-December.
“This achievement is a very important breakthrough by Peak’s Technical Team,” Peak Resources managing director Richard Beazley said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“We have always said we intend to be a low cost producer and the physical upgrade will contribute significantly to achieving this.
“We have a high grade deposit, the mineralisation is shallow, has excellent metallurgical characteristics, and with this physical upgrade and the forthcoming Scoping Study we believe Peak is very well placed to continue hitting its milestones.”
Peak completed a maiden Mineral Resource estimate at Ngualla in February 2012 of 170 million tonnes grading 2.24 per cent of rare earth oxides (REO) for 3.8 million tonnes of contained REO.
Within this resource there is a highly weathered and near surface zone estimated at 40 million tonnes at 4.07 per cent REO for 1.6 million tonnes of contained REO.
Ngualla is a bulk deposit which is largely outcropping and has the lowest uranium and thorium levels of any major rare earth deposit in the world.
Peak has proved a simple sulphuric acid leach processing route to produce a high-grade, high-purity rare earth concentrate.
Rare earth leach extraction rates of up to 96.5 per cent and averaging 80 per cent were returned from across the central portion of the Southern Rare Earth Zone (SREZ), the Bastnaesite Zone that is targeted for first production by early 2016.