Canadian Matamec sets up rare earths pilot plant at Quebec project

Junior miner Matamec Explorations, currently developing the Kipawa rare earths project in western Quebec, Canada, said on Monday it had started a pilot plant to enable the continuous processing of ore samples.

The Montreal-based company added the pilot plant it is operating in an independent laboratory to validate previous test results in a continuous manner and on a larger scale.

The plant would also produce concentrates that would be used in the second phase of test work scheduled to start early in the third quarter of this year.

"The processing of rare earth ore is the biggest obstacle when developing a rare earth project," said in a statement Andre Gauthier, president of Matamec, "Matamec and the SGS technical team have worked diligently for more than two years to develop a new process that is both simple and low cost,” he said.

“The mineral processing pilot plant was successfully commissioned last week at SGS Minerals Services. The plant consists of crushing and grinding circuits, followed by two stages of magnetic separation. The two main goals of the pilot plant are to validate the process on a larger scale and to generate sufficient feed for downstream hydrometallurgical work,” the company said in a statement.

During the next three weeks, 15 tonnes of sample ore from the project would be treated to produce about 5 tonnes of mineral concentrate. This mineral concentrate would then be fed into the hydrometallurgical pilot plant to generate a mixed-rare-earth-concentrate final product.