Canadian rare-earth elements (REE) exploration company Medallion Resources will receive up to $50 000 in funding from the Canadian federal government, through small and medium-sized enterprises assistance programme the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Programme (NRC-IRAP) to support the final major testwork of its REE extraction process development.
This testwork project, which has a total budget of about $80 000, will be performed by Canadian State-owned enterprise the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) and focus on processing routes and analysis of major waste streams, particularly those containing radioactive elements. The non-dilutive NRC-IRAP funding is projected to cover over 60% of project costs.
“Our process development work to date has demonstrated extraction and production of both a commercial-ready rare earth chemical concentrate and a phosphate by-product from monazite sand,” says Medallion metallurgist Kurt Forrester.
He notes that the new testwork to be undertaken by the SRC will produce discrete waste streams, allowing it to engage with processors and waste management firms to determine disposal options and costs related to uranium and thorium.
Forrester adds that understanding this important aspect of material flow will enable Medallion to estimate capital and operating costs on its proposed monazite REE extraction plant in North America.
Funding from the Canadian government will accelerate process development and be funded over a period of four months, which started on February 1 this year. To receive the contribution from NRC-IRAP, Medallion must meet all conditions of the contribution, which include maintaining adequate records and submitting periodic status reports.
Medallion is developing a modern, safe and automated process to extract REEs from monazite tailings streams. Monazite sand is available as a by-product of heavy mineral sands mining operations and is recognised by US government scientific agency the US Geological Survey as an important commercial source of REEs.
Medallion has established relationships with heavy mineral sands miners and believes commercial agreements can be negotiated as plant design, available monazite feedstock and potential production volumes are aligned during 2019.
By-product monazite represents a vital source of magnet metals to automakers and other industrial groups seeking alternative REE sources to offset China’s dominance of the rare earths production and processing value chain.
Also, given the geopolitical sensitivity of rare earths and associated environmental issues, established mining groups are receptive to a safe and reliable outlet for their monazite tailings stream resources.