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Commerce produces >98% CAF2 samples from Ashram

2020-11-30 07:58 ET - News Release

Mr. Chris Grove reports


Commerce Resources Corp. has produced additional samples of acid-grade fluorspar concentrate from the Ashram rare earth and fluorspar deposit, Quebec. The test work on fluorspar recovery is being carried out by Hazen Research, Colorado, United States, which is also developing the primary rare earth element (REE) recovery flowsheet.

Previous test work has demonstrated the ability to achieve fluorspar grades as high as 98 per cent CaF2, as well as standard specifications for silicon dioxide, aluminum oxide, chlorine, beryllium, cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury (see news releases dated Feb. 28 and Sept. 24, 2020). The company is pleased to report that the recent bench test work has produced additional acid-grade samples over 98 per cent CaF2. The results demonstrate that acid-grade fluorspar can be produced from Ashram deposit material, where the starting head grade is about 7.5 per cent CaF2.

The specifications and impurity tolerances in the acid-spar industry may vary widely depending on the final application; however, a key requirement to obtain is the CaF2 purity -- typically over 97 per cent. Based on the bench-level test work completed to date, the company is confident that it can attain this base level purity of about 97 per cent CaF2, as well as other key specifications, that will allow for a marketable product to a variety of end-users and associated applications.

There are currently two flowsheet approaches being advanced to produce acid-grade fluorspar from the Ashram deposit, with the results herein produced using a front-end flotation/leach/magnetic process. An alternative approach is also being developed which uses the tailings stream from the primary REE (rare earth element) concentrate, where the fluorspar passively upgrades throughout the REE processing circuit. In both cases, the recovery of fluorspar from the Ashram deposit has been approached as a secondary objective to the primary REE recovery. Further, depending on the approach for fluorspar recovery, impurity removal may also increase overall REE recovery in the flowsheet.

In addition to being one of the largest rare earth deposits globally, the Ashram deposit is also one of the largest fluorspar deposits globally. The production of REEs and fluorspar are currently dominated by China, placing Ashram in a unique position to potentially address the supply concerns of these two critical commodities. Both REEs and fluorspar are considered critical/strategic commodities by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the European Union and the province of Quebec, Canada.

Fluorspar market

Fluorspar (CaF2) is an essential raw material to the steel, aluminum and chemical industries in two marketable products: acid spar grade and met spar grade.

Acid-spar (over 97 per cent CaF2), accounting for roughly 60 per cent of the market, is primarily used to synthesize hydrofluoric acid (HF) and subsequent fluorochemicals, and in the production of aluminum metal, to reduce process temperatures and energy consumption. It is also a key raw ingredient of materials used in enhancing the operational performance of lithium-ion batteries.

Met-spar (over 60 per cent CaF2), accounting for roughly 40 per cent of the global fluorspar market, is primarily used as a flux in the steel making process to lower the melting temperature, to reduce slag viscosity and remove impurities.

Similar to the prevailing dynamics for rare earth elements, China was historically the largest exporter of fluorspar. However, in the last three years, China has become a net importer. This has caused significant price appreciation for fluorspar, and market interest from industry in new sources.

National Instrument 43-101 disclosure

Darren L. Smith, MSc, PGeo, Dahrouge Geological Consulting Ltd., a permit holder with the Ordre des Geologues du Quebec and qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, supervised the preparation of the technical information in this news release.

About Commerce Resources Corp.

Commerce Resources is an exploration and development company with a particular focus on deposits of rare metals and rare earth elements. The company is focused on the development of its Ashram rare earth element deposit in Quebec and the Upper Fir tantalum-niobium deposit in British Columbia.

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