Hastings Rare Metals (ASX: HAS) is rapidly advancing its Hastings Heavy Rare Earth Project with the start of validation and verification test work by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
Importantly, ANSTO has extensive rare earths experience working on project's such as Lynas Corporation's (ASX: LYC) Mt Weld Project, Arafura Resources' (ASX: ARU) Nolan's Project and Alkane Resources' (ASX: ALK) Dubbo Project.
The preliminary work by ANSTO is intended to validate and verify the flow sheet and the chemistry defined in Stage 1 of the 1990 pilot plant tests conducted at Warren Springs, U.K., by former project owner West Coast Holding.
ANSTO will also examine sulphation parameters, including acid addition, sulphation temperature and time, as well as the water leaching extraction parameters of water to solids ratio.
Also being investigated at a preliminary level is the recovery of zirconium, niobium and rare earths via solvent extraction and selective stripping.
"Once Stage 1, the extraction section of the old flow sheet, has been validated and verified, then Stage 2, which covers optimisation of the chemistry to prioritise the dysprosium and yttrium values, can be developed," Steve Mackowski, Hastings Rare Metals technical director, said.
"The progression of the development through a controlled and planned process allows the progressive update of the financial model of the project.
"This progress will be reported to the market as validation, verification and optimisation milestones are achieved."
Hastings project progress
Hastings is focused on expanding the resource at the Hastings project, which hosts a JORC Resource of 36.2 million tonnes at 0.21% total rare earth oxides, 0.35% niobium and 0.89% zanthium.
In addition, the company is looking to locate higher grade material and improve the stripping ratio at Hastings.
Mackowski previously told Proactive Investors that the company is considering further drilling to expand the Indicated Resources to the Measured category as a requirement of a Bankable Feasibility Study.
Hastings project ranked highly in global terms
A recent Scoping Study ranked the Hastings project as one of the top heavy rare earth projects in the world, with an extremely high proportion of heavy rare earth oxides at 85% of total rare earth oxide ratio.
The study indicated that an open cut mine at Hastings could run for 15 years, producing 150 tonnes of dysprosium and 1,000 tonnes of yttrium based on a mining rate of 1 million tonnes.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation have been placed at $150 million per annum, allowing for a short capital payback period of less than 5 years.
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