Proprietary Metallurgical Process to Produce 98.9% Purity Rare Earth Oxide highlights Search Minerals’ Technological inroads
“Investing in technologies is the sure bet ” Jack Lifton eloquently pointed out to an eager audience during a private luncheon in Toronto last week. He was dead on as he went on to explain that technology is the future as he demonstrated through a lifetime of technological innovations in his presentation. But I would like to expand on Jack’s comments that while technology is the vehicle for investing in the future — some technologies are more interesting than others.
Also, some technological innovations that look simple warrant a closer look.
Such is the case of Search Minerals Inc.’s (TSXV: SMY) proprietary metallurgical process for 98.9% purity rare earth oxide, which was first disclosed in a July 2014 press release and then updated with substantive scaled up data in February 2015, which deserve the attention of industry stakeholders.
First off the scale up test was performed at SGS Minerals, Canada The test is based on an acid bake process (H2SO4; 200 °C) followed by water leaching at 10% solids and 90 °C and purification trough simple pH adjustment with magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) to reject key impurities (Fe, Al, Si, Th, U) and then addition of (Na2CO3) which is a critical measure of success.
The rare earth carbonate precipitate was purified using Search’s process of acid re-leaching, pH adjustment to reject impurities, rare earth oxalate precipitate and calcination.
The final rare earth oxide product (the calcine) analyzed 98.9% TREO+Y and only 2.4 g/t of Th. This calcine would be refined at a rare earth refinery into separate rare earth elements products for sale.
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Search Minerals is planning recovery optimization will be undertaken at the demonstration pilot plant stage of development planned for 2015. This is expected to increase recoveries through optimization of the acid dosage, temperature and time of heating and particle size of the crushed material.
A simplified flow sheet is of significance to stakeholders: on the one hand it shows Search Minerals is taking a systematic approach to optimization, which is expected to reduce capex and opex. On the other hand, I am certain it will provide inspiration to others in using similar approaches for the development of their own flow sheets, which brings us back to Jack Lifton and technological innovation. As a rule innovation is rarely generated by a single person: it arises from the contribution of various minds, sometimes working independently from each other. In the case of Search Minerals, we can predict that their innovation will contribute to their success and that of others.
Search Minerals is a TSX Venture Exchange listed company focused on creating value through finding and developing mineral assets with growing demand and constrained or restricted supply, and with increasing use of innovative technologies.
Search is the discoverer of the Port Hope Simpson REE District, a highly prospective light and heavy REE belt located in southeast Labrador, where the Company controls a dominant land position in a belt 70 km long and up to 8 km wide. In addition, Search holds a number of additional mineral prospects in Newfoundland and Labrador in its portfolio, including claims in the Strange Lake Complex (where Quest Rare Minerals has a Joint Venture with Search); and at the Red Wine Complex (where Great Western Minerals Group has a Joint Venture with Search).
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>