EDITOR: | September 8th, 2013 | 8 Comments

Quest’s pursuit of innovative technologies yields separate heavy and light rare earth concentrate success

| September 08, 2013 | 8 Comments

quest mineralsAfter achieving a cost-effective and highly efficient (+80% recovery rates) method to produce zirconium to maximize the value of its Strange Lake rare earths deposit, Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. (TSX: QRM | NYSE MKT: QRM) has announced that it has extracted an 84% pure “heavy rare earth plus yttrium” (HREE+Y) concentrate with a 75% yttrium oxide content. Quest said that the chemistry results of the HREE+Y concentrate meet the requirements of its potential customers while it has already signed an agreement to supply zirconia filter cake material to TAM Ceramics for quality evaluation. Quest and TAM recently entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent with respect to the purchase by TAM of all of Strange Lake’s annual zirconia production, proving its ability to address increased demand for permanent magnets, phosphors and pigments.

Quest is also in discussions with potential industrial partners for evaluations of the product results obtained to date. The chemistry received from the HREE+Y concentrate addresses the ideal metal distribution requirements of one of the third parties with which Quest is currently in discussions. In an ongoing pursuit to optimize recovery from the Strange Lake flow sheet, Quest has already delivered an LREE concentrate containing lanthanum, cerium and sufficient amounts of praseodymium, neodymium and gadolinium to add significant value. Quest has been working with the Helmholtz Institute for Resource Technology in Germany and SGS in Lakefield, to review and constantly improve its metallurgical processes. Quest is also working on a forthcoming full demonstration pilot plant, which will see much higher process capacities than the already operating a mini-pilot plant while it reaches completion on the pre-feasibility study for the Strange Lake B-Zone.

Quest and its investors have two reasons to be confident in its future. The first is that it has access to what is one of the largest heavy rare earths (HREE) deposits in the world. The second, and perhaps more important reason, is that the company has spent considerable energy on developing its metallurgical processes to maximize potential, focusing on production and on the market appeal of its products, which is coherent with Quest’s plan to become a leader in the manufacturing and marketing of rare metal oxides and related minerals — banking on a long predicted mine life and proven processing technology. In other words, Quest is pursuing its path to production with the needs of the end user – that is the customer – in mind. This strategy is also valuable where the seemingly overwhelming competition from China is concerned. Chinese rare earth producers are facing difficulties, having become increasingly aware of the harmful effects that occur when environmental considerations are overlooked.

Such oversights may have helped attract business initially, but Chinese rare earth companies have already been force to operate under a stricter regulatory framework. By focusing on research and new metallurgical processes, companies such as Quest can not only deliver high quality products but also develop solutions to overcome these difficulties and eventually reach a more international regulatory framework that makes it more difficult for one power to hoard a critical resource space. One of the key drivers of improving processing techniques is the reduction of energy consumption. Mines focusing on efficient operations and efficient processing, such as Quest, will be in a position to benefit. To this effect, Quest announced that it will work with the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) in Germany. The Institute’s goal is to develop “innovative technologies for the economy so that mineral and metalliferous raw materials can be made available and used more efficiently and recycled in an environmentally friendly manner”.


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  • Bill Keenes

    Well done Quest.

    REE are about “chemistry, chemistry and chemistry”. That is all one needs to know and if one doesn’t have the chemistry right then grade, sheer quantity, a nearby highway or a friendly offtaker won’t save a project from an ignominious fate.

    Very nice to see stories like this updating investors on progress with what really matters in getting these projects into production, “chemistry, chemistry and chemistry”.

    Thank you Alessandro.

    September 9, 2013 - 2:06 AM

  • black jack

    well it is not just chemistry if you look at the Lynas saga in Malaysia

    it became political, a punching bag for the Greens, fodder for the Wall Street Times, a radioactive scary nightmare, waste issues and now technology issues with the separation plant LAMP.

    This is not a pilot plant but a fully scaled operating LAMP with LAMP 2 just behind it.

    More than just science, a billion dollars later and a long way to go!!!

    September 9, 2013 - 4:27 AM

  • Bill Keenes

    If Lynas had not first “cracked the metallurgy” then there would never have been a LAMP and you would have no political risk to crow about.

    Quest is getting on with it – hence I say well done, and am very pleased to be reading about their progress in this regard.

    September 9, 2013 - 7:54 AM

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  • Jim

    I agree this is a nice step in the right direction. Other than the very large capex required to develop this resource, which hopefully the management can manage with wise strategies, this is one of the best resources out there. 50% heavies, large amounts of dysprosium and all ready an off-take agreement for all of its Zircon. A greater than 50 year mine life and other strategic metals on-site (niobium)
    Let’s hope QRM keeps moving forward and doesn’t get bogged down with the current junior bear market.

    September 9, 2013 - 8:48 PM

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