Promise for Northern Minerals’ Rare Earths Project
- Category: tungsten‘s News
- Published on Friday, 24 September 2021 23:15
Northern Minerals has advanced its ore sorting project improvement program by commissioning and testing the Steinert sorter system. Steinert XRT ore sorter tests show promise for its rare earths project.
This system is now producing ore sorting the material and converting it to 30% total rare earth oxide (TREO) concentrate at its Browns Range concentrator in Western Australia.
Mark Tory, CEO of the company, said, "The construction, commissioning and testing of the ore sorter circuit marks another milestone in the development of the Browns Range project.”
"Bulk sample testing has confirmed the effectiveness of the ore sorter circuit for Wolverine ore, significantly increasing the grade of raw ore entering the plant, which is expected to bring higher productivity and lower operating costs to full operation of the Browns Range project.”
"It is also pleasing that initial sorting tests on the Banshee ore are showing promise and, if shown to be effective in future tests, have the potential to significantly increase the mineral resource estimate for Browns Range."
Mark Tory added: "Being able to test and operate the ore sorting circuit with the pilot concentrator provides extremely valuable data that you wouldn't get from a small bench test, which will inform our feasibility study for a potential commercial-scale heavy rare earth operation at Browns Range."
The ore sorting system is being built during 2020 and 2021 and will be operational in June 2021. The sorter installed is a 2-meter wide Steinert sorter that uses X-ray transmission (XRT) and laser detectors to identify rare earth mineralization.
The sorter has been operated during two test campaigns, including 41 test runs processing 5,300 tonnes of ore primarily from the Wolverine mine and five test runs on 285 tonnes of Banshee ore, which was bulk sampled from the surface costean.
Northern Minerals says these tests confirm that the sorter can sort both sizes of ore, allowing one machine to sort two sortable sizes (10 mm-25 mm and 25 mm-75 mm). the portable portion of the Wolverine ore (material larger than 10 mm) can be successfully sorted (50% of the mass contains 90% TREO recovery), and when used in combination with non-sortable fines, a grade improvement of 45% can be achieved, with over 95% TREO recovery achieved when fed 0.9% TREO ore.
The sorting system is currently operating to feed the concentrator, and as of the end of August, the Wolverine ore sorting circuit had processed 4,479 tonnes of ore. The company says that processing Wolverine ore sorted material at the concentrator results in higher recoveries at the magnetic and flotation plants compared to feeding unsorted ore. The company has produced a bulk sample of 50 tons of 30% TREO rare earth concentrate for test work at future facilities that may have the capacity to process heavy rare earth isochronous concentrates produced at Browns Range rare earths project.
The bulk sample testing highlighted several critical factors that need to be considered for ore sorting that cannot be bench-sized in a laboratory environment using the vendor's equipment. Understanding the impact of these factors is critical to the integration of the ore sorting circuit into a full-scale processing facility.
Northern Minerals said the bulk ore sorting test work is a key input to the full-scale concentrator feasibility study currently underway, which will also leverage the extensive technical, operational, and economic data obtained from the R&D test work conducted at the Browns Range pilot plant since 2018.
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