Geomega Resources (CVE:GMA) unveiled Thursday preliminary metallurgical results from its Montviel rare earths-niobium project near Level-sur-Quévillon, Québec, with recoveries as high as 97% total rare earth oxides (TREO).
The junior miner's shares rallied 2.7 per cent to 38 cents Thursday morning.
The company said the results were obtained in the conception of the preliminary processing flow sheet for the project.
Using combined gravity/flotation methods, high TREO and niobium (Nb2O5) recoveries were seen, with 87% of TREO and 95% of Nb2O5.
The company said there was also 31% whole ore mass reduction.
After ferromagnetic separation on whole mineralized ore, results were also "successful", the company said, with recovery of 97% TREO and 96% Nb2O5, with 16% whole ore mass reduction.
Assuming similar success using ferromagnetic separation on mineral concentrate which contained 80 per cent of the iron mineralization present in the mineralized ore, pre-concentrate estimated recovery results were 85% of TREO and 90% of Nb2O5, with 42% whole ore mass reduction.
Geomega also said that highlights of the metallurgy results included the production of an iron by-product, separated during physical pre-concentrate preparation.
"The recovery factor in these preliminary results is excellent," said CEO of Geomega, Simon Britt.
"Mr. Pearse, GéoMégA's consulting metallurgist, has added a ferromagnetic separation (step 2) subsequent to gravity/flotation (step 1), which results in additional ore mass reduction and excellent recoveries (97% TREO and 96% Nb2O5), while producing a potential saleable iron by-product.
"The iron removal triggers further improvements in the pre-concentrate which will reduce hydrometallurgical costs."
Britt also said that additional tests and "optimization at every level" are ongoing.
"Aside from location, Montviel has distinct similarities with the world's largest rare earths resource in Bayan Obo (Inner Mongolia), which is primarily an iron ore deposit," he added.
The processing flow sheet for the project is now conceptually defined for inclusion in the preliminary economic assessment for Montviel, which is now in progress by G Mining Services.
COREM, a consortium of applied research for the processing and transformation of mineral substances, was hired in March to undertake parallel testing on ferromagnetic separation on a representative sample of Montviel's rare earths/niobium enrichment zone mineralization.
Approximately 150 kilograms of uncrushed drill core was delivered to COREM, Geomega said.
Testing and results on different grain size, roasting temperatures and gradient 2 strength are expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
The Montviel project is located approximately 100 km north of Lebel-sur-Quévillon in the southern, developed, part of Quebec's "Plan Nord", an $80 billion economic, social and environmental development plan of Northern Quebec over a period of 25 years.
In September last year, the company released an initial NI 43-101 compliant resource for the project at a base cut-off grade of 1% TREO, for a total of 183.9 million tonnes averaging 1.45% TREO in the indicated resources category and 66.7 million tonnes averaging 1.46% TREO in the inferred resources category.
The miner said another NI 43-101 compliant resource calculation for the Montviel core zone is slated to be finished in July. The company completed a phase 2 drill program at the site in March, totaling 24,234 metres over 50 holes.
Highlights from the southwest portion of the core zone included 2.08 percent total rare earth oxides (TREO) and 0.22 percent niobium oxide (Nb2O5) over 245.9 metres in hole MVL-11-32D, including 3.28 percent TREO and 0.25 percent Nb2O5 over 31.5 metres and 2.59 percent TREO and 0.55 percent Nb2O5 over 19.5 metres.
In April, Geomega closed the second and final tranche of a $3.5 million private placement financing, and recently announced plans to raise another $206,250 through a non-brokered private financing to fund the development of Montviel.
The asset is lauded as one of the largest TREO resources outside China, which has the potential for a "significant near term role" in the growing permanent magnet sector due to its proximity to infrastructure and available labour.
Rare earths refer to a group of 15 specific elements, known as lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium, used for everything from smartphones to guided missiles. While some rare earths are relatively common, they are dispersed in a way that makes it difficult to find deposits with high enough ore grades to economically exploit.