Rare Element Bench Scale Metallurgical Processing Tests Produce a 90+% REO Concentrate
March 4, (Source: Marketwire) Lakewood, CO — Rare Element Resources Ltd. (NYSE MKT:REE)(NYSE Amex:REE)(TSX:RES) is pleased to provide further information regarding its proprietary process technology that enhances the efficiency of rare earth recovery. The new metallurgical process consists of Hydrochloric (HCl) acid leaching at moderate temperature, selective precipitation of rare earth elements (REEs) with oxalic acid, and calcination of REE oxalates at elevated temperature to produce a high purity mixed REO powder, with accompanying capture of kiln flue gases.
Jaye Pickarts, Chief Operating Officer, stated “We are extremely pleased with the development to-date of this exciting technology, and the potential benefits the proprietary process brings to the project and our customers. As we continue our lab scale testwork, the final results will support our upcoming definitive feasibility study, scheduled to start in mid-2013”.
The rare earth ore from the Bull Hill mine will be upgraded physically on site to produce the REE-rich pre-concentrate solids for treatment at the hydrometallurgical facility in Upton, Wyoming. The process will employ a hot chloride solution to extract over 90% of the REEs into a pregnant leach solution (PLS). Using closed reactor vessels, the PLS will react with oxalic acid powder under optimized conditions to facilitate selective precipitation of REEs. Approximately 95-99% of REEs are precipitated from the PLS, leaving behind all the major base metals in solution.
The REE-rich oxalate precipitates are converted to their oxide form in a calcination process. The mass of REE-oxalates is reduced by as much as 50% and the calcine powder contains 90+% pure mixed REO. This is a significant improvement from the 45% concentrate which was used as the basis for the economic calculation in the Preliminary Feasibility Study completed in 2012. The REO powder can be re-dissolved selectively in an appropriate acid to isolate traces of residual impurities, or it could be sold to a third party refinery. The filtrate or barren PLS from the oxalate reactor contains a significant amount of HCl acid, which is recovered by distillation. The vapor is condensed by cooling water and contains approximately 20% hydrochloric acid. This acid is then recycled for use in the chloride leach circuit. The number of process reagents is significantly reduced, and the economic benefit of recycling HCl acid to the leach reactors is significant.
The process was tested successfully in a bench scale program and is currently being corroborated at two commercial metallurgical laboratories. We anticipate the availability of results within the next several weeks, at which time we will provide an update. Following the successful completion of the testwork, the process technology will be incorporated into our planned pilot plant testwork, leading to the formal start of our definitive feasibility study in mid-2013.
Rare Element Resources has filed a provisional patent with the U.S. Patent Office regarding oxalate process technology for the recovery of rare earth products from its Bear Lodge Project.
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Rare Element Resources Ltd. is a publicly traded mineral resource company focused on exploration and development of rare-earth elements (REEs), with a significant distribution of critical rare earths (CREEs). In addition to the REE exploration and evaluation efforts, the Company controls the Sundance gold project, which is located on the same property in Wyoming.
Jaye T. Pickarts, P.E., serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Company and as an internal, technically Qualified Person. Technical information in this news release has been reviewed by Mr. Pickarts, and has been prepared in accordance with Canadian regulatory requirements that are set out in National Instrument 43-101. For a description of the key assumptions, parameters and methods used by the Company to estimate mineral reserves and resources, as well as data verification procedures and a general discussion of the extent to which the estimates may be affected by any known environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, socio-political, marketing or other relevant factors, please see the Technical Reports for our project as filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of securities legislation in the United States and Canada. Except for statements of historical fact, certain information contained herein constitutes forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements are usually identified by our use of certain terminology, including “will”, “believes”, “may”, “expects”, “should”, “seeks”, “anticipates”, “has potential to”, or “intends’ or by discussions of strategy or intentions. Such forward-looking statements involving statements regarding the future likelihood of success of our process technology, anticipated testwork results and recovery estimates, involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and may cause our actual results or achievements to be materially different from any future results or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts, and include but are not limited to, estimates and their underlying assumptions; statements regarding plans, objectives and expectations with respect to the effectiveness of the Company’s business model; future operations, products and services; outcomes of technology development and use; the impact of regulatory initiatives on the Company’s operations; the size of and opportunities related to the market for the Company’s products; general industry and macroeconomic growth rates; expectations related to possible joint and/or strategic ventures and statements regarding future performance.
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