Mr. Chris Grove reports
COMMERCE RESOURCES CORP. INITIATES MINERAL PROCESSING PROGRAM TO DETERMINE FINAL PREFEASIBILITY FLOWSHEET DESIGN CRITERIA
Commerce Resources Corp. has initiated a mineral processing program to determine the final prefeasibility study (PFS) design criteria of the front-end flowsheet for the Ashram rare earth and fluorspar deposit. The program has been developed in co-ordination with the qualified persons for the project's PFS flowsheet design and will be carried out at Hazen Research, where the company's conventional base flowsheet has been developed.
The program is designed to confirm the mineral processing components in order to establish the front-end flowsheet design for the PFS. The design of the downstream hydrometallurgical flowsheet for the PFS is currently being confirmed as part of the continuing program to produce mixed rare earth carbonate concentrate to satisfy several requests by global processors (see news release dated Sept. 9, 2021). Specifically, the mineral processing program will include:
- Incorporation of the advancements to the flotation circuit, made by academic and government institutions, into the company's base flowsheet developed at Hazen Research;
- Final flotation and magnetic separation development testwork to confirm the optimal reagent suite and conditions of the front-end flowsheet;
- Phase 2 comminution variability testing on nine domain composites of drill core collected throughout the deposit;
- Front-end flowsheet variability testing on early/mid-mine-life deposit material using domain composites;
- Filtration testing on flotation concentrate and tailings to determine material handling and tailings management facility design.
Company president Chris Grove commented: "The company has significantly advanced the flowsheet's development through focused work in past programs at Hazen Research as well through the numerous optimizations and discoveries from our institutional collaborations, which continue today. As we advance through the later stages of the PFS for Ashram, it is now time to confirm the flowsheet's PFS design criteria, which is the next step in advancing the study to completion. Flowsheet development remains an ongoing process through to feasibility and is commonly refined during operation, and as such, the company will continue to advance the testwork and unlock the considerable potential for optimization that remains in which Hazen and our institutional metallurgical partners have outlined."
Flotation and wet high-intensity magnetic separation (WHIMS)
Approximately five tonnes of Ashram deposit bulk sample material, at a grade of 2.0 per cent rare earth oxide (REO), have been crushed and ground to use as feed for the test program. The initial focus of the program will be to incorporate into the base flowsheet the discoveries and advancements made by the academic and government institutional groups, namely CanmetMining (a branch of Natural Resources Canada) and Universite Laval, whose test programs have been supported by various provincial and federal grant programs. The successes of these programs include significant reductions in reagent quantities, alternative reagent suites and improved recoveries in cleaner-stage flotation (see news releases dated May 13, 2020, and Dec. 17, 2019, respectively). Once the flotation component of the flowsheet has been confirmed and the optimal flotation reagent scheme and conditions have been determined, a scale-up will be completed, which may include additional piloting.
Following confirmation of the flotation circuit design, the magnetic separation circuit will be further advanced and optimized. The initial work on the magnetic separation stage (WHIMS) proved extremely successful with a strong upgrading factor at very high stage recoveries (high 80s to mid-high 90s) resulting in the high-grade monazite concentrates (greater than 40 per cent rare earth oxide) comparable with global producers. As such, significant room remains for additional improvement and the testwork planned herein for the magnetic separation stage will target further optimization of this circuit including the evaluation of different types of magnetic separator equipment.
Comminution and variability
The phase 2 comminution testwork is currently being carried out by SGS Canada on nine rock unit domain composites and will include Bond low-energy-impact testing (CWi), JK drop-weight testing (DWT), SAG (semi-autogenous grinding) mill comminution testing (SMC), Bond rod mill grindability testing (RWi), Bond ball mill grindability testing (BWi) and Bond abrasion testing (Ai). The phase 2 comminution testwork will complement the phase 1 work completed in 2012 on near-surface drill core intersections (less than 71 metres in depth) located in the central areas of the deposit. Comminution data are a critical component of a PFS and are required to determine appropriate equipment sizing, maintenance cycles and energy requirements at the mill.
As part of the overall program, variability testing will be completed to expand upon previous work, including applying the base case flotation flowsheet to the nine domain composites currently being used for the comminution testwork. The information will complement the comminution data and further constrain equipment sizing and other critical design criteria for the process plant. A specific focus will be placed on material, which is expected to comprise the initial years of mine life.
Variability testing is a critical component of flowsheet development and ensures that the process plant can handle the natural variability of the deposit mineralization. Some of this work has already been completed throughout the test programs over the past few years and includes testwork on drill core at different locations within the deposit, as well as bulk sample material from surface outcrop.
As part of the overall program, filtration testing will be completed on flotation concentrate and tailings to determine material handling and tailings management facility design. Tests will include static settling and vacuum and pressure filtration and complement the preliminary filtration testing completed as part of the 2015 flotation pilot plant operation. The data collected will be used to determine the appropriate filtration methods and equipment sizing for operation at the process plant, as well as determine the optimal handling, transport and storage methods for the concentrate and tailings.
The current flowsheet for the Ashram rare earth and fluorspar deposit, developed by Hazen Research, uses conventional unit processes to produce a high-grade rare earth mineral (monazite) concentrate that is comparable with active global hardrock REE producers. Specifically, the Ashram flowsheet utilizes a flotation -- HCl (hydrochloric acid) leach -- magnetic separation process approach to achieve high-grade (greater than 40 per cent REO) monazite concentrates at high recovery, similar in nature to those that are commonly processed globally today.
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 -- Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects, supervised the preparation of the technical information in this news release.
About Commerce Resources Corp.
Commerce Resources is a junior mineral resource company focused on the development of the Ashram rare earth and fluorspar deposit located in Quebec, Canada. The company is positioning to be one of the lowest-cost rare earth producers globally, with a specific focus on being a long-term supplier of mixed rare earth carbonate and/or NdPr (neodymium and praseodymium) oxide to the global market. The Ashram deposit is characterized by simple rare earth (monazite, bastnaesite and xenotime) and gangue (carbonates) mineralogy, a large-tonnage resource at favourable grade, and has demonstrated the production of high-grade (greater than 45 per cent REO) mineral concentrates at high recovery (greater than 70 per cent) in line with active global producers. In addition to being one of the largest rare earth deposits globally, Ashram is also one of the largest fluorspar deposits globally and has the potential to be a long-term supplier to the met-spar and acid-spar markets.
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