Havilah Resources Ltd (ASX:HAV) (FRA:FWL) has entered a research agreement with the University of South Australia to investigate recovery of by-product rare earth elements (REE) from saprolite gold ore at the company’s Kalkaroo project.
Test sample material for the six-month collaborative research agreement will come from Havilah’s recent shallow drill holes at West Kalkaroo, which encountered highly elevated levels of REE.
This mineralisation was in association with economic grades of gold and native copper.
The objectives are to identify minerals hosting the REE and to determine whether it is feasible to produce an REE concentrate using specialised flotation techniques suited to the extremely fine, clayey and oxidised nature of the saprolite material.
This is to be achieved within the context of a processing circuit that is primarily designed to maximise gold recoveries.
Tapping into expertise
Havilah’s technical director Dr Chris Giles said: “We are very pleased to have initiated this collaborative research with UniSA, which has allowed us to tap into the highly specialised REE recovery expertise and supporting facilities that are available in South Australia.
“This research is key to determining whether it is possible to economically recover REE as a by-product from the Kalkaroo copper and gold ores.
“Importantly, any recovery of REE as a by-product would be underpinned by copper and gold production and so potentially enable a steady supply of REE to help fill Australia’s critical minerals needs over a long period.”
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UniSA is well-positioned to assist Havilah via its well-equipped metallurgical research laboratory at the Future Industries Institute on the Mawson Lakes campus in South Australia.
The responsible research associate, Dr George Abaka-Wood, is uniquely qualified in the field of REE mineral recovery by flotation processes.
His PhD research succeeded in establishing the specialised flotation conditions required for REE recovery from complex iron-rich sulphide ores.
Both Dr Abaka-Wood and his supervising associate, Professor Bill Skinner, are the authors of many scientific papers published in international journals on this and related subjects.
This REE research is of strategic importance at this time when the Australian Government is implementing its Critical Minerals Strategy, which in large part is driven by China’s domination of world REE supply chains.
If successful, this research could be instrumental in facilitating a new long-term supply of REE as a by-product of copper-gold mining operations in northeastern South Australia.
Giles added: “The value upside for Havilah is that if REE can be economically recovered in a mineral concentrate as a by-product of the standard copper and gold recovery processes it potentially provides a further revenue stream for the Kalkaroo Copper-Gold-Cobalt Project.
“Havilah’s other project work and exploration drilling will continue as planned and will not be affected by this REE research project, which will be funded via Portia gold mining royalty payments received during the quarter ended April 30, 2020.”