Greenland Minerals and Energy (ASX: GGG) continues to build momentum at the wholly owned Kvanefjeld multi-element project in Greenland, which is recognised as one of the world's largest resources of rare earth elements and uranium.
The project currently hosts contained metal of 350 million pounds of uranium, 6.6 million tonnes of TREO and 3 billion pounds of zinc.
In parallel with resource development, comprehensive metallurgical and process development studies have been conducted to optimise the Kvanefjeld processing route.
Through a major technical breakthrough mineral concentrates can be leached under atmospheric conditions to yield extractions of 90% to 95% for uranium and heavy rare earth elements.
The significance of these extraction levels for the company is immense, as both uranium and heavy rare earth elements are the two main value drivers for the Kvanefjeld project. Light rare earth oxides are also recovered, but at a slightly lower level of extraction.
Importantly - beneficiation through froth flotation reveals industry leading upgrade ratios from ore to mineral concentrate representing less than 15% of the original mass.
Leach studies on the mineral concentrates demonstrate that the rare earth element and uranium bearing minerals are highly amenable to conventional acid leach/solvent extraction.
Greenland Minerals told Proactive Investors today that the breakthrough, "firms up our progress in establishing a simple, and effective way of processing the Kvanefjeld ores.
"In particular, high extractions of heavy rare earth elements under a simple atmospheric leach is a very favourable outcome. Put simply, we can effectively beneficiate and leach the key components."
Other key outcomes from the technical breakthrough include:
- Favourable leach solution chemistry allows for the generation of both heavy and light rare earth products;
- Major advances in beneficiation and atmospheric leaching allow for the development of an enhanced, efficient flowsheet utilising conventional methods with low technical risk;
- Developments eliminate the need for whole‐of‐ore pressure leaching and significantly reduce the scale of leach circuits, leading to a substantial reduction in capital expenditure; and
- The company is looking to finalise its preferred flowsheet and development scenario through Q1 2012, before finalising Pre-Feasibility work on the Kvanefjeld project.
Kvanefjeld offers multiple revenue drivers
Where the revenue generating potential really ramps up for Greenland Minerals is that there are multiple product streams and revenue drivers that can be derived from Kvanefjeld.
The company will focus on uranium and heavy rare earth oxide production initially, which then increases options and greater flexibility in the marketing and pricing of light rare earth products thereafter.
Greenland Government uranium decision "momentous" for Kvanefeld
At the end of 2011 Greenland Minerals and Energy received some very positive news, in that the Greenland Government is introducing a uranium licensing framework for Kvanefeld, which looks to have delivered a blue print for the company to move ahead with a strategic partner and ultimately move closer to heavy rare earths production.
Under the licensing framework in Greenland, the licensee maintains the right to apply for an exploitation (mining) license for all exploitable elements listed on the exploration license.
Importantly the exploration license now includes radioactive materials, providing the company with the clear right to apply for the exploitation of radioactive elements along with all other exploitable elements - which brings the potential production of heavy rare earths into play.
At the time, Roderick McIllree, managing director of Greenland Minerals, commented on the good news and said, "The company expects in the first few months of next year to announce its final flow sheet that will almost certainly see Kvanefjeld optimised on heavy rare earth production, underpinned by an economic keel of uranium production."
News flow: JORC Resource announcements pending
Investors will already be well aware of the potential of Kvanefjeld to develop into a company making project for Greenland Minerals, with initial JORC Resources for Zones 2 and Zones 3 forecast for delivery to the market in the March 2012 quarter.
Recent highlights from Zone 2 include; 66 metres at 474ppm uranium, 1.55% TREO, 0.34% zinc; 60 metres at 486ppm uranium, 1.15% TREO, 0.34% zinc; and 65 metres at 417ppm uranium, 1.36% TREO, 0.33% zinc.