Australia creates first REE carbonate from clays

CLAY-hosted rare earths appear to be everywhere in Australia at the moment, west to east, and as the nation targets ramping up production of the critical minerals it has just achieved a key milestone.
Australia creates first REE carbonate from clays Australia creates first REE carbonate from clays Australia creates first REE carbonate from clays Australia creates first REE carbonate from clays Australia creates first REE carbonate from clays

A game changer: the first MREC from clay-hosed rare earths in Australia

Haydn Black


Pioneer Australian Rare Earths has produced the nation's first mixed rare earth carbonate from an ionic clay-hosted rare earth deposit.
It confirms the company's Koppamurra resource in South Australia is significantly down the path to being commercialised.
The MREC is said to contain all the rare earths needed to produce permanent magnets that are used in the world's most powerful electric motors such as wind turbines and electric vehicles, including neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium.
Acting managing director Rick Pobjoy said the achievement was being met with great interest by potential downstream customers. 
"The ease with which the process can be undertaken utilising readily available equipment, to recover REEs in solution, gives validation to our belief that Koppamurra will be a long-term rare earth supplier of global significance," he said.
Rare earths are amongst the most resource-critical raw materials, but the world faces a lack of diversity of supply, with the supply chain dominated by China.
Clay-hosted deposits are also often cheaper and easier to produce than other hard rock REE deposits.
AR3 said its metallurgical tests used existing equipment, and simple processes operating at ambient temperatures and pressures.
The MREC produced from an 800kg bulk sample at ANSTO Minerals will be provided for product specification and samples for potential offtake assessments.
AR3 and ANSTO are now working with potential partner, Neo Performance Materials, to optimise the flowsheet and reduce impurities further.
Neo is partially owned by Australian hard rock REE hopeful Hastings Technology Metals.
AR3 has a resource of at 81.4 million tonnes at 785 parts per million total rare earth oxides and is looking to update that over the next few weeks off the back of additional drilling that has identified significant TREO grades and thicknesses outside the resource envelope and exploration target areas. 
Aircore drilling will continue until May. 
Economic studies into development options are also ongoing.
Shares in AR3, which have traded in a range of A18-80c over the past year, were up 5% this morning at 21c, valuing the company at $27 million.