|By Marketwire .||
|March 13, 2013 04:00 PM EDT|
WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA -- (Marketwire) -- 03/13/13 -- Peak Resources Limited ("Peak" or "the Company") (ASX: PEK) (OTCQX: PKRLY) today announced that ANSTO Minerals (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) has completed preparation of feed material for the Ngualla solvent extraction (SX) Pilot Plant. The ability to produce separated high purity products adds significant value to the project and allows access to wider markets for Ngualla's products.
- An average 83% recovery of rare earths in the acid leach stage was achieved from the bulk sample.
- The work independently verifies the 'Proof of Concept' simple acid leach recovery flowsheet at a larger scale using a bulk composite of weathered Bastnaesite Zone rare earth mineralisation from Ngualla.
- The rare earth chloride feed solution produced is exceptionally pure with thorium and uranium levels below detection limits.
- An optimisation program on the acid leach and purification flowsheet is expected to improve process efficiencies further and Peak has commissioned ANSTO to complete this work.
- The SX Pilot Plant remains on track to deliver four separated > 99% purity rare earth oxide (REO) products successively over the next few months with the final product delivered by mid-2013.
- In addition to providing product samples and specifications for assessment by potential off take customers, the work will provide detailed engineering data for the design of the full scale SX plant for inclusion in the Pre-Feasibility Study currently in progress.
- The SX Pilot Plant work will confirm the end to end process of Ngualla mineralisation to high value products, demonstrating the de-risking of the project, and is a major step toward achieving production in early 2016.
The work was achieved using the simple sulphuric acid leach recovery process to treat a 1.3 tonne bulk sample of Peak's Ngualla rare earth mineralisation, which further verifies the robustness of the process flow sheet.
Peak Managing Director Richard Beazley said, "The independent verification of the Ngualla process flowsheet by ANSTO Minerals further demonstrates that Peak has a robust and reliable metallurgical treatment process that works for the weathered Bastnaesite mineralisation at Ngualla. Completion of the SX Pilot Plant work will place Peak amongst a very select few companies to have successfully produced high quality purified rare earth products."
The solvent extraction SX Pilot Plant work at ANSTO is designed to deliver four high purity ( > 99% REO) separated products from a rare earth chloride solution generated from Ngualla Bastnaesite Zone mineralisation. The chloride solution is generated using Peak's proven simple sulphuric acid leach process. The work will:
- Confirm the end to end hydrometallurgical process to take Ngualla mineralisation to high rare earth value products.
- Provide engineering data for detailed plant design for input into the Pre-Feasibility Study.
- Provide products in sufficient quantity for assessment by potential off take customers.
A bulk sample of approximately 1.3 tonnes of weathered rare earth mineralisation collected from 16 drill holes and 160 individual one metre samples within the Bastnaesite Zone at Ngualla was stage crushed and ground to 80% passing 106 microns.
ANSTO leached the blended material in sulphuric acid over a 4 day campaign using a series of 3 batch leach tanks and a filter press. In total about 5,200 litres of filtrate was collected with the majority then processed through double sulphate precipitation in a continuous circuit that ran for approximately one day. After this primary precipitation, the solid was recovered by filtration.
Approximately 193kg of rare earth double sulphate was produced before undergoing caustic conversion and cerium removal (Figure 1). A total of 95% of the cerium was removed early as cerium oxide. This is a marked improvement on what was achieved for the Scoping Study and will ultimately result in a smaller and more cost effective downstream separation plant.
A total of 241 litres of high grade rare earth chloride solution was produced after a purification process as feed to the SX separation Pilot Plant. Contaminants in this purified solution are extremely low with thorium and uranium both below the 1ppm assay detection limit. Other contaminants such as iron, aluminium and magnesium are well below problematic levels for SX feed solutions.
ANSTO have also been commissioned to optimise the leach recovery and purification process to further improve stage recoveries and lower reagent costs. The results of this work will feed into the Pre-Feasibility Study and revised economic assessment currently in progress and due to be completed in Q3 2013.
SX Pilot Plant
The SX Separation Pilot Plant operation is being conducted at ANTSO's new Solvent Extraction Facility. This facility is "state of the art" and will provide engineering data required for the Pre-Feasibility Study. The SX Pilot Plant will also produce four targeted rare earth products each of greater than 99% purity:
- Heavy REO Mix (Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu and Y)
- Didymium Oxide - Praseodymium and Neodymium Oxide mix
- Cerium Oxide
- Lanthanum Oxide
These four products are chosen to meet the different applications of rare earths and the needs of end users and consumers.
The first stage of the SX Pilot Plant (Figure 2) is to recover the heavy rare earths (HRE), samarium to lutetium and yttrium, from solution. These rare earths will subsequently be purified before being recovered to produce a mixed HRE oxide product of greater than 99% purity. This first HRE product is scheduled for completion early in Q2 2013.
The other three products will be produced successively over the next few months with the final lanthanum oxide product scheduled to be delivered by mid-2013.
About Peak Resources
Peak is developing the Ngualla Project, a potentially low-cost, long term rare earth project located in south west Tanzania. Ngualla has been ranked as the fifth largest deposit in the world outside China, and the highest grade of the top seven.
Ngualla has a Mineral Resource of 170 million tons grading 2.24% of rare earth oxides (REO). Within the resource there is a highly weathered and near-surface zone estimated at 40 million tons at 4.07% REO, equivalent to 1.6 million tons of contained REO (see Table 1 below for resource classifications). Ngualla is also a bulk deposit which is largely outcropping. These attributes place the project among the world's most notable rare earth discoveries of recent years.
Ngualla is a potential low cost open pit mine due to its shallow outcropping high grade mineralization. The initial sighter metallurgical test work to date has been completed using a sulphuric acid leach process route suggesting a relatively less complex, potentially cheaper capital outlay and shorter time to production.
Safe Harbor Statement
The Company does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update these forward-looking statements and information. The information in this report that relates to Exploration Results is based on information compiled and/or reviewed by Dave Hammond who is a Member of The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Dave Hammond is the Technical Director of the Company. He has sufficient experience which is relevant to the style of mineralisation and type of deposit under consideration and to the activity which he is undertaking to qualify as a Competent Person as defined in the 2004 Edition of the 'Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves". Dave Hammond consents to the inclusion in the report of the matters based on his information in the form and context in which it appears. Certain statements contained in this document constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and forward looking information under the provisions of securities laws. When used in this document, the words "anticipate," "expect," "estimate," "forecast," "will," "planned," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements or information.
Such statements include without limitation: statements regarding timing and amounts of capital expenditures and other assumptions; estimates of future reserves, resources, mineral production, optimization efforts and sales; estimates of mine life; estimates of future internal rates of return, mining costs, cash costs, minesite costs and other expenses; estimates of future capital expenditures and other cash needs, and expectations as to the funding thereof; statements and information as to the projected development of certain ore deposits, including estimates of exploration, development and production and other capital costs, and estimates of the timing of such exploration, development and production or decisions with respect to such exploration, development and production; estimates of reserves and resources, and statements and information regarding anticipated future exploration; the anticipated timing of events with respect to the Company's minesites and statements and information regarding the sufficiency of the Company's cash resources. Such statements and information reflect the Company's views as at the date of this document and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions, and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements and information. Many factors, known and unknown could cause the actual results to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward looking statements and information. Such risks include, but are not limited to: the volatility of prices of gold and other metals; uncertainty of mineral reserves, mineral resources, mineral grades and mineral recovery estimates; uncertainty of future production, capital expenditures, and other costs; currency fluctuations; financing of additional capital requirements; cost of exploration and development programs; mining risks; community protests; risks associated with foreign operations; governmental and environmental regulation; the volatility of the Company's stock price; and risks associated with the Company's by-product metal derivative strategies. For a more detailed discussion of such risks and other factors that may affect the Company's ability to achieve the expectations set forth in the forward-looking statements contained in this document, see the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011, as well as the Company's other filings with the Australian Securities Administrators and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2256032
Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2256035
Image Available: http://www2.marketwire.com/mw/frame_mw?attachid=2256039