South Australia-focused Havilah Resources has entered into an initial six-month collaborative research agreement with the University of South Australia (UniSA) relating to the recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from its Kalkaroo saprolite gold ore.
The research will seek to establish whether it is possible to economically recover REE as a by-product from the Kalkaroo copper and gold ores.
Test sample material will come from Havilah’s recent shallow drill holes at West Kalkaroo, which have encountered highly elevated levels of REE in association with economic grades of gold and native copper mineralisation.
The objectives of the research are to determine whether it is feasible to produce an REE concentrate using specialised flotation techniques suited to the extremely fine, clayey and oxidised nature of the saprolite material.
This is to be achieved within the context of a processing circuit that is primarily designed to maximise gold recoveries.
“Any recovery of REE as a by-product will be underpinned by copper and gold production and so potentially enable a steady supply of REE to help fill Australia’s critical minerals needs over a long period,” says Havilah technical director Dr Chris Giles.
The value upside for Havilah is that if REE can be economically recovered in a mineral concentrate as a by-product of the standard copper and gold recovery processes it potentially provides a further revenue stream for the Kalkaroo copper/gold/cobalt project.
UniSA will conduct the research at its metallurgical research laboratory at the Future Industries Institute on the Mawson Lakes campus, in South Australia.
The REE research comes at a time when the Australian government is implementing its ‘critical minerals strategy’, which, in large part, is driven by China’s domination of the world’s REE supply chains.