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Greenland Minerals and Energy sharpens rare earths production efficiencies

Greenland Minerals and Energy has completed refinery pilot plant activities at its Kvanefjeld rare earths-uranium project, with outcomes either consistent with or exceeding feasibility design criteria.
Greenland Minerals and Energy sharpens rare earths production efficiencies

Greenland Minerals and Energy (ASX:GGG) has completed refinery pilot plant activities at its Kvanefjeld rare earths-uranium project, with outcomes either consistent with or exceeding feasibility design criteria.

The trial for the refining process – which converts mineral concentrate produced by the concentrator circuit into a rare earth intermediate product – served to further de-risk the Greenland operation’s atmospheric leach circuit and confirmed the non-refractory nature of Kvanefjeld material with high extraction levels.

The pilot plant-scale operations produced valuable information which would not be available at small or batch scale. In particular, this includes information on the performance of solid liquid separation units such as thickeners and filters.

Due to the use of simple mechanical equipment, the availability of the pilot plant was very high with no significant stoppages experienced. All materials of construction performed well with no corrosion observed due to process conditions.

The impurity removal circuit demonstrated improved rare earth recoveries to those assumed for the feasibility study.

These pilot plant activities were performed as part of the European rare earths promotional program, EURARE, for which Greenland Minerals is a work package leader.

About 25 kilograms of mixed rare earth carbonate produced as part the exercise will be used to test further refining of the rare earths to produce final rare earth products.

Upcoming separation testwork will involve the use of solvent extraction to produce individual rare earth oxides.


Processing strengths

The latest results from the refinery pilot work followed related testwork last month which demonstrated a 95% production rate of rare earth extraction, comfortably exceeding feasibility study design assumptions of 77%.

Uranium extractions were in line with feasibility assumptions at a solid 85%.

The overall progress represents a firming up of design parameters for crucial processing steps in Kvanefjeld’s planned operations and offers additional support for ongoing optimisation study efforts to further improve project economics.

Recent work in this regard has also achieved continuous pilot plant operation for 250 hours, treating 250 kilograms of rare earth and uranium mineral concentrate, which was generated by the concentrator pilot plant in May.


Growing project

Processing milestones at Kvanefjeld have been paralleled by significant fundraising efforts, with Greenland Minerals generating A$3 million earlier this month from the underwriting of an earlier announced rights issue priced at $0.035 per share.

The funding will be used to develop Kvanefjeld into permitting phase as well as shift into gear the commercialisation of the massive project.

Permitting is based on just the Kvanefjeld deposit, which features an initial mine life of 37 years, drawing on a 108 million tonne defined ore reserve.

If the two other JORC mineral resources are included at the project, Sørensen and Zone 3 which remain open, the broader project takes on herculean scale.

The combined JORC mineral resources represent one of the world’s largest undeveloped rare earth and uranium deposits, handily located with direct, year-round shipping access in southern Greenland.

Resource totals have been estimated at 10.3 million tonnes for total rare earth oxides, 370,000 tonnes for heavy rare earth oxides, 575 million pounds for uranium oxide and 2.25 million tonnes for contained zinc.


Analysis

Completion of the refining pilot work is a significant milestone in operations where processing particulars weigh heavily on operational economics – as is the case in rare earths and uranium projects. 

As such, positive results from the latest refining testwork on Kvanefjeld material are significant. The economic success of rare earth operations is highly reliant on efficient processing flowsheets.

The improvement achieved on feasibility assumptions, meanwhile, highlights that conservative metrics have been applied to Kvanefjeld, suggesting further project upside may result as more advanced developments take shape.

Future upside in this regard may be provided by upcoming analysis of a 25-kilogram sample of mixed rare earth carbonate produced as part of the latest testwork.

The high recovery rates and better-than-expected processing character of Kvanefjeld material bode well for efficient exploitation of a massive resource with access to high-tech European markets.

The involvement of EURARE in Kvanefjeld’s development hints at the appetite in Europe for regional sources of the strategic minerals the project will provide.


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