Advanced mineral exploration company Defense Metals Corp. (TSXV:DEFN) (OTCQB:DFMTF) just announced some big news that indicates its Wicheeda Rare Earth Elements Project holds major potential for operations.
The company just announced that it has received final bench-scale hydrometallurgical test program results for Wicheeda from SGS Canada Inc. The test achieved approximately 90% REE extraction from Wicheeda flotation concentrate.
The 90% REE extraction result by itself is remarkable. However, the test also identified opportunities to increase recoveries even further.
This was achieved through a process of mild hydrochloric acid leaching; the test program removes the economically worthless materials (known as gangue minerals) from a given sample while leaving the desired material—in this case, rare earth elements (REEs)—for collection.
Simple treatment of the leach solution with limestone removed 94-100% of impurities, such as iron, phosphorous, and thorium. Meanwhile, there were only minor REE losses of approximately 2-4%.
Craig Taylor, CEO of Defense Metals, said of the test program:
“These are exceptional results that show the Wicheeda REE Deposit mineralization is readily amenable to processing via well-established flotation, and hydrochloric acid leach / caustic crack REE extraction methods. Based on these positive results we expect to finalize our plans to commence continuous pilot plant testing in the near future.“
Wicheeda’s Strategic Importance
This is not the first result that Defense Metals has received regarding the viability of the Wicheeda project. Results from a 30-tonne bulk sample sent to SGS Canada Inc. for metallurgical and processing test work first identified promising REE deposits in March of last year.
Then, in October 2019, results from a total of 40 batch flotation tests successfully produced 48.7% total rare earth oxides. This included high-grade concentrate of cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, and praseodymium oxides.
Moreover, the Wicheeda property itself is extremely well-positioned for mining operations. It is approximately 80 km northeast of the city of Prince George, British Columbia, a strategic mining center. It’s also readily accessible by all-weather gravel roads and is near power transmission lines, the CN railway, and major highways.
The Wicheeda project consists of six mineral claims totaling 1,708 hectares (4,220 acres). Within 12 months of its option on the property, DEFN exceeded its Year 1 and Year 2 exploration spend commitments. This demonstrates the company’s commitment to the rapid advancement of this project.
Defense Metals’ Plans for 2020
In a recent press release regarding the company’s strategy and goals for 2020, Taylor said he expects this to be a “watershed year” for DEFN.
In addition to completing the hydrometallurgical test work, Defense Metals plans to achieve a number of other key benchmarks in 2020. This includes the initiation of flotation pilot plant processing of a 30-tonne bulk-sample to establish the viability of bench test results during large-scale continuous operation. The company will also continue diamond drilling to further define the newly discovered north zone of the Wicheeda property and update its mineral resource estimate for the project.
This is an exceptionally exciting time for a company like Defense Metals Corp. (TSXV:DEFN) (OTCQB:DMFTF), especially as demand for REEs is reaching a critical high.
The global market for REEs was estimated to be US$8.10 billion in 2018, and by 2025 that market will likely be worth around US$14.43 billion.
Keep watching this space for more updates about DEFN.
Featured image: Peggy Greb, US department of agriculture (public domain)
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