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Auxico plans to build $116 million rare earth refinery in Colombia

Auxico plans to build a rare earths refinery in Colombia. Credit: davidf via iStock.

Auxico Resources Canada (CSE: AUAG) is making plans to build a 10,000-sq.-metre rare earth refinery in the free trade zone in the city of Santa Marta, Colombia. With a throughput of 36,000 tonnes per year, the estimated cost of the plant will be $116.2 million.

The company says this will be the first rare earth refinery in the Western Hemisphere. It has already signed a lease with an option to purchase four lots within the Zona Franca Tayrona industrial park.

Auxico’s plant will incorporate standard metallurgical processes plus innovative extraction technologies. The goal is to build a plant with low energy consumption, significantly shorter and cost-effective cycles, and an overall lower environmental impact.

Feed for the new refinery will come from Auxico’s properties currently under development in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The company is also finalizing supply agreements with producers in Brazil and Bolivia.

Auxico signed a technology licence agreement earlier this year for the ultrasound assisted extraction process (UAEx). In tests conducted by the company over the past 12 months, the UAEx has proven to recover at least 80% of selected rare earth elements over a two-hour leach time.

Laboratory tests demonstrated that the UAEx process, when combined with certain acids and used at various frequencies, breaks up the ore into fine particles, thus reducing leach cycle times.

Auxico holds mineral and surface rights to the Minastyc property in the department of Vichada, Colombia. The company has made an initial discovery of rare earth mineralization with a 56.9% total rare earth content after leaching and a second discovery 1.6 km away with a 55% total rare earth content after leaching.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)