LSE and ASX-listed rare earths developerPensana Rare Earths has successfully produced an NdPr-rich mixed rare earth carbonate from the testwork currently underway on mineralisation from its Longonjo rare earth project in Angola.
Industry experts Wood Group and Nagrom, based on testwork performed at metallurgical laboratories in Perth Western Australia, have successfully developed a flowsheet to produce a particularly high grade mixed rare earth carbonate with neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) comprising 33.5% of the total rare earths content.
Mixed rare earth carbonate is a much higher purity and higher value product and has a much broader market and range of applications than the concentrate product contemplated in the company’s preliminary feasibility study.
Based on information provided by industry specialists the specifications of Longonjo’s mixed rare earth carbonate compares favourably with the main products currently being produced and sold mainly in China.
The pilot plant and metallurgical test work are ongoing with a view to finalising the preferred process route and to providing data for engineering and production cost estimations for the bankable feasibility study (BFS).
A comprehensive update on the BFS will be reported towards the end of the month. Two of the circuits will be required to run for longer to bring the testwork results up to the required reporting standards for the study, which will enable the finalisation of the report in due course.
A key feature that the study will report is the potential for the project to be brought online as the first major rare earth mine in over a decade, which can also offer a sustainable supply of mixed rare earth carbonate at a time when there is growing concern around the provenance of the rare earth supply chain.
“This is an important milestone for the project as it confirms the potential to produce a marketable higher value NdPr rich mixed rare earth carbonate,” says Pensana Rare Earths CEOTim George.
“We are now in a position to commence discussions with potential offtake parties in Japan, Korea and Europe in addition to the wide range of potential customers in China.
“Importantly the combination of this value-adding step with the excellent infrastructure, not least the available hydro-electric power supply, will enable us to develop Longonjo as one of the world’s most sustainable rare earth suppliers on the critical magnet metal supply chain,” says George.
Meanwhile, Pensana has appointed the Wood Group to undertake a study into the establishment of an integrated rare earth processing facility in the UK with a view to creating the world’s first sustainable magnet metal supply chain.
Having progressed the design of the Longonjo project in Angola to include the production of a mixed rare earth carbonate, Pensana now has a unique opportunity to explore the potential for it to make one further step downstream and to create additional value by establishing a rare earth oxide production facility in the UK.