TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Feb. 11, 2013) – Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. (TSX:QRM) (NYSE MKT:QRM) (NYSE Amex:QRM) wishes to provide an update on the preparation of a pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the B-Zone deposit at Quest’s Heavy Rare Earth Element Project, Strange Lake, Québec. The Strange Lake Project is located 225 km northeast of Schefferville, Québec and 125 km west of the Voisey’s Bay nickel-copper-cobalt deposit, eastern Labrador.
Significant development work has been completed which demonstrates that Strange Lake is a very large rare earth project with one of the highest concentrations of heavy rare earth elements as well as important by-products zirconium and niobium. The current project configuration calls for a conventional open pit and typical associated mine infrastructure, including camps, maintenance shops, utilities and processing facilities. The project infrastructure will incorporate a port and a 165-kilometre access road (see Press Release : February 15, 2012).
The bulk of the engineering work for the PFS has been completed, led by several engineering firms working with Quest’s management team. Hatch Associates Ltd. has provided the design for a solvent extraction circuit while AECOM has worked with Quest for much of the balance of the project. Micon International Limited has designed the mine plan with support from AMEC Earth & Environmental, while Strategic Engineering & Science, Inc. (SES) has been responsible for the design of a tailings disposal facility. AECOM is also responsible for the completion of the environmental base line data collection and the preparation of terms of reference for Quest’s environmental impact assessment.
Quest is examining potential refinements to the Strange Lake Project, with a view to further reducing project risk, lowering capital costs and operating costs, and allowing for an earlier mine commissioning date when compared to the current project configuration. As a result of the additional project review, Quest expects to deliver the PFS for the Strange Lake Project within six months. Quest notes that the mine plan, the great majority of the engineering work done to date for the PFS, the extensive metallurgical test work program and the resulting process plant design, supporting site infrastructure design, road and port will all apply to the potential refinements currently under examination by Quest. In light of a significant increase in the size of the Strange Lake Project resource as well as changes to the nature and scope of the Strange Lake Project, Quest also expects that the capital cost and operating cost for the Strange Lake Project will be significantly greater than those set out in the September 2010 Preliminary Economic Assessment (see Press Release : September 9, 2010 and Press Release : February 15, 2012).
Quest is also pleased to provide an update on the extensive metallurgical program being undertaken on the Strange Lake deposit mineralization. During the last year, a significant amount of development work has been conducted. Bench-scale testing of all parts of the process has effectively defined the metallurgical treatment route, and recently a mini pilot plant was commissioned to test continuous operation of the solvent extraction process, focusing initially on the zirconium extraction circuit. Early extraction results confirm the results of the bench-scale testing. This will be followed in the coming months with commissioning of the niobium and rare earth solvent extraction and precipitation circuits at the mini pilot level. Metallurgical process stream information from this work will be incorporated into the final demonstration scale pilot plant, which is expected to be in operation during the second quarter of calendar 2013.