Australia’s Peak Resources Limited has announced the successful completion of the leach recovery pilot plant, a key milestone in enabling its Ngualla project to become a low operating and capital cost mine, capable of producing high value, high demand rare earths for use in the magnet metal market.
Ngualla is located in southern Tanzania, 147 km from the city of Mbeya on the edge of the East African Rift Valley. The project is centered on the Ngualla Carbonatite. Peak announced a maiden mineral resource for Ngualla in February 2012, which ranked it as the fifth largest rare earth deposit in the western world.
Testing of the leach recovery process, developed by Peak’s metallurgical team specifically for the low carbonate and low phosphate bastnaesite mineralisation present at Ngualla, was completed at ANSTO Minerals’ dedicated piloting facility at Lucas Heights, New South Wales, Australia.
The pilot plant delivered high recoveries (greater than 90 %) of the target magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium.
The validation of the leach recovery process follows the earlier validation of the beneficiation and separation processes (both of which were operated to pilot plant phase) and allows Peak to demonstrate a clear and viable processing pathway from Run-of-Mine ore to the production of saleable rare earth products.
Peak’s MD, Darren Townsend, commented that the company was pleased to have completed this final milestone before completion of the project Bankable Feasibility Study.
“The completion of the leach recovery pilot plant unequivocally demonstrates Peak’s enviable advantage of having favourable mineralogy at Ngualla which is capable of delivering a product suite that is aligned to the high demand and value magnet metal market.
“We are confident that with our processing flowsheet confirmed as both technically feasible and deliverable at low operating and capital costs compared to our industry peers that the Ngualla project is on track for near-term development.”