Northern Minerals proposes to introduce ore sorting technology to boost Browns Range pilot plant production profile and economics.

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Planned location of the ore sorter at the Browns Range Pilot Plant. Image courtesy ©Northern Minerals

The Company has investigated using ore sorting on the five stockpiles at Browns Range Pilot Plant Project in northern Western Australia, to improve beneficiation and feed to the processing facility, which will in turn result in an increase in the amount of rare earth oxides that can be produced by the recently commissioned pilot plant.

Northern Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, George Bauk, said that the company has successfully produced mixed rare earth carbonate from the Browns Range pilot plant.

“We are working towards the technical and economic feasibility of the Project. This announcement, which demonstrates the potential to double the mill feed grade through ore sorting, has many positive benefits”, said Mr Bauk.

“Ore sorting technology is readily available through a number of providers and our studies on the five existing ROM stockpiles have shown the potential for significant improvements in both processing plant efficiency and value recovery of heavy rare earth elements through its use.

“We believe the up-front capital cost of retrospectively installing ore sorting technology ahead of the existing Brown Range Pilot Plant circuit is justified in light of the head grade improvement demonstrated in the testwork to date, along with the forecast economic benefits delivered by greater production output – both of which will flow-through to additional medium-term value for shareholders.”

Northern Minerals is currently working on more test work, approvals, planning and the funding required for ore sorting at Browns Range with a view to have ore sorting installation in Q2 2019. The estimated capital cost is AU$4 million.

The rare earth content in the Browns Range ore is contained mostly in the mineral xenotime, a yttrium phosphate mineral. Xenotime is a paramagnetic mineral that allows the ore to be beneficiated using magnetic separation, but it is also a dense mineral that allows sorting by density. X-ray transmission (XRT) sensors are able to differentiate between the high-density xenotime containing ore and lower density gangue minerals.


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